Identifying Methods to Reduce Sea Turtle Bycatch in the Reef Fish Bottom Longline Fishery
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
DWH Project Funding
Known Leveraged Funding
Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees (NRDA)
Natural Resource Damage Assessment NRDA
This project will work to identify factors contributing to sea turtle incidental captures in the reef fish bottom longline (BLL) fishery and identify opportunities to restore loggerhead sea turtles by reducing the number of captures and mortality in the fishery. Sea turtle bycatch in reef fish BLL gear can lead to serious injury or death through entanglement in or ingestion of gear. This project will thoroughly evaluate existing NOAA observer program data to identify factors that influence the bycatch of loggerhead sea turtles in the eastern Gulf of Mexico reef fish BLL fishery. Potential co-factors include, but are not limited to, area, latitude, season, depth, number of hooks, hook type and size, bait used, soak time, and sea surface temperature. Project findings will be used to inform and develop future restoration projects. Future projects may entail efforts such as enhanced data collection, stakeholder outreach, gear or fishing practice modification and testing, pilot project efforts, and implementation of voluntary programs. Data analyses would occur in year one, followed by the identification of potential future restoration options in year two. This project is Phase 1 of a multiphased approach to identify potential gear modifications or other voluntary changes to fishing practices to reduce sea turtle bycatch in the fishery.