Small-Scale Fisheries Bycatch Jeopardizes Loggerheads

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This is almost a 1000 juveniles killed in a year in Baja California alone. The authors mention that over 99% of all fisherpeople are employed in small scale fisheries, which surprised me.

PLoS ONE: Small-Scale Fisheries Bycatch Jeopardizes Endangered Pacific Loggerhead Turtles:

Although bycatch of industrial-scale fisheries can cause declines in migratory megafauna including seabirds, marine mammals, and sea turtles, the impacts of small-scale fisheries have been largely overlooked. Small-scale fisheries occur in coastal waters worldwide, employing over 99% of the world’s 51 million fishers. New telemetry data reveal that migratory megafauna frequent coastal habitats well within the range of small-scale fisheries, potentially producing high bycatch. These fisheries occur primarily in developing nations, and their documentation and management are limited or non-existent, precluding evaluation of their impacts on non-target megafauna.

This is a surprising and unexpected finding because you would expect smaller fishing boats to have smaller impacts. I guess smaller scale fishing fleets in Mexico (and other developing nations) have not been targeted for education, awareness and enforcement of turtle safe fishing practices.

The good news from the study is that a major source of mortality has been identified and the authors point to recent efforts to increase awareness in the community about turtle safe fishing. But it will be a long and hard fight to be tackled all over the world.

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