Study maps accidental killings of sea turtles

Apr 01, 2013
A sea turtle is pictured in the coastal town of Palmachim, south of Tel Aviv, on June 7, 2012. Sea turtles can get accidentally caught and killed in fishing operations, and new research out Monday seeks to map this phenomenon for the first time in a bid to save the endangered creatures.

Sea turtles can get accidentally caught and killed in fishing operations, and new research out Monday seeks to map this phenomenon for the first time in a bid to save the endangered creatures.

The study in the journal Ecosphere said in the East Pacific, North Atlantic, Southwest Atlantic and Mediterranean face the highest bycatch .

However, not enough is known about the problem in much of the world, with "significant data gaps" in the Indian Ocean and the waters off Africa and southeast Asia highlighting the "urgent need for increased monitoring," said the study.

"We lose hundreds or thousands of turtles each year in populations that are already at risk," said lead author Bryan Wallace of Duke University. "Many sea turtle populations around the world could face local extinction if we don't reduce bycatch."

Researchers also found that near-shore fisheries pose a significant threat to turtles, rivaling that of large scale, fisheries.

The highest bycatch rates in the world were found in small-scale fishing operations off the coast of Baja California, Mexico. There, a 100-boat has been found to be lethal to as many loggerhead turtles annually as all other fisheries in the North Pacific combined, according to Conservation International.

Last year more than 2,000 turtles were killed by the small fleet, marking a 600 percent increase over previous mortality estimates, the group said.

The analysis was based on more than 1,800 bycatch records spanning back two decades, and was done by researchers from Conservation International, Oceanic Society, San Diego State University, Duke University and Stanford University.

"This study should serve as an initial roadmap to prioritize investment of limited resources to sustainably manage fisheries to minimize bycatch," Wallace said.

Previous research has shown that use of nets with turtle-sized escape hatches can drastically cut back on accidental deaths.

Six of the world's seven species of sea turtles are considered endangered.

Explore further: Study indicates large raptors in Africa used for bushmeat

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Five sea turtle populations are endangered

Sep 16, 2011

The United States issued a ruling on Friday saying that five world populations of loggerhead sea turtles are endangered species but four are only "threatened."

Study shows small-scale fisheries' impact on marine life

Jul 19, 2011

Small-scale fisheries could pose a more serious threat to marine life than previously thought. Research led by the University of Exeter, published today (19 July) in the British Ecological Society's Journal of ...

Commercial fishing estimated to kill millions of sea turtles

Apr 06, 2010

The number of sea turtles inadvertently snared by commercial fishing gear over the past 20 years may reach into the millions, according to the first peer-reviewed study to compile sea turtle bycatch data from gillnet, trawl ...

US fisheries kill 4,600 sea turtles per year: study

Sep 14, 2011

Improved fishing nets have saved tens of thousands of endangered sea turtles in recent years, but 4,600 are still dying annually, mainly in Gulf of Mexico shrimp trawls, said a US study on Wednesday.

Mexico releases 100,000 endangered sea turtles

Jan 31, 2013

A Mexican conservation group released more than 100,000 sea turtles into the ocean last year, in an effort to save a species threatened by egg poachers and fishing nets.

Recommended for you

Study indicates large raptors in Africa used for bushmeat

2 hours ago

Bushmeat, the use of native animal species for food or commercial food sale, has been heavily documented to be a significant factor in the decline of many species of primates and other mammals. However, a new study indicates ...

Noise pollution impacts fish species differently

5 hours ago

Acoustic disturbance has different effects on different species of fish, according to a new study from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter which tested fish anti-predator behaviour.

Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles

5 hours ago

Invertebrate numbers have decreased by 45% on average over a 35 year period in which the human population doubled, reports a study on the impact of humans on declining animal numbers. This decline matters because of the enormous ...

Insecticides similar to nicotine widespread in Midwest

6 hours ago

Insecticides similar to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, were found commonly in streams throughout the Midwest, according to a new USGS study. This is the first broad-scale investigation of neonicotinoid ...

User comments : 0