"Although our numbers are estimates, they highlight clearly the importance of guidelines for fishing equipment and practices to help reduce these losses," Wallace said.
Effective measures to reduce turtle bycatch include the use of circle hooks and fish bait in longline fisheries, and Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in trawling. Many of the most effective types of gear modifications, Wallace noted, have been developed by fishermen themselves.
Wallace said the Hawaiian longline fishery and the Australian prawn fishery have significantly reduced bycatch through close working relationships between fishermen and government managers, use of onboard observers, mandatory gear modifications and innovative technologies. TurtleWatch, a real-time database that provides daily updates on water temperatures and other conditions indicating where turtles might be found, has guided fishermen to avoid setting their gear in those areas.
Other approaches, such as the creation of marine protected areas and use of catch shares, also reduce bycatch, preserve marine biodiversity and promote healthy fish stocks in some cases, he said.
"Fisheries bycatch is the most acute threat to worldwide sea turtle populations today. Many animals die or are injured as a result of these interactions," Wallace said. "But our message is that it's not a lost cause. Managers and fishers have tools they can use to reduce bycatch, preserve marine biodiversity and promote healthy fish stocks, so that everyone wins, including turtles."
The study stems from work Wallace began in 2005 as a postdoctoral research associate at the Duke University Marine Lab, where he helped develop the first global bycatch database for longline fisheries. That work was part of a three-year initiative called Project GloBAL (Glob
|Contact: Tim Lucas|