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Small-scale fishing in Mexico rivals industrial fisheries in accidental turtle deaths
Date:10/16/2007

be felt decades into the future.

"You can protect hatchlings on beaches all you want, but if you don't protect juveniles during those 30 years on their foraging habitats, it's never going to work," Peckham said.

After realizing the scale of the bycatch, Peckham planned his dissertation research in a way that would help solve the problem. Through the regional conservation network Grupo Tortuguero, he employed Mexican high school and university students to go out on fishing boats and record turtle catches. He set up meetings with local fishermen to brainstorm ways to avoid the problem, including testing alternative fishing gear, bringing Japanese and Hawaiian fishermen to Mexico to share oceanwide perspectives, and spreading the word about bycatch through comic books, impromptu movie showings, murals, and festivals. (See related story at http://press.ucsc.edu/text.asp"pid=1597.)

After seeing the global consequences of their activities, the fishermen quickly made strides to curb their fleet's impact. Last year, a traditionally rich fishing locale that also produced much of the turtle bycatch was voluntarily made into an off-limits "Fishers' Turtle Reserve" by the fishermen themselves. Efforts to declare the area an official national reserve with legal protection are under way. And earlier this year, Peckham said, the owner of the area's biggest fishing fleet chose to retire his longlines from duty in turtle-rich waters.

"In the realm of saving ocean wildlife, we rarely see opportunities as powerful as this," said Wallace J. Nichols of the Ocean Conservancy, a coauthor of the paper.

"These Mexican fishermen are bringing about probably the biggest reduction in bycatch by any single action that we can imagine. That fleet's switch away from bottom-set longlines will spare hundreds of loggerheads a year," Peckham said.


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Contact: Hugh Powell
hpowell@ucsc.edu
831-459-2495
University of California - Santa Cruz
Source:Eurekalert

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