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Keywords:

  • loggerhead sea turtle;
  • leatherback sea turtle;
  • incidental capture;
  • mitigation measures;
  • circle hook

Abstract

  • 1.
    Incidental catches by the pelagic longline fishery is a major global threat for loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtles.
  • 2.
    The reduction of incidental capture and post-release mortality of sea turtles in the Brazilian pelagic longline fishery, operating in the south-western Atlantic Ocean, was investigated by comparing the performance of 18/0 circle hooks with 9/0 J-type (control) hooks. Hook selectivity experiments were performed between 2004 and 2008, in a total of 26 trips, 229 sets and 145 828 hooks. The experimental design included alternating control and experimental hooks along sections of the mainline.
  • 3.
    An overall decrease in capture rates for loggerhead turtles of 55% and for leatherbacks of 65% were observed when using circle hooks. In addition, deep-hooking in loggerheads decreased significantly from 25% using J-hooks to 5.8% with circle hooks, potentially increasing post-release survival.
  • 4.
    Circle hooks increased catch rates of most of the main target species, including tunas (bigeye Thunnus obesus and albacore T. alalunga), and sharks (blue Prionace glauca and requiem sharks of the genus Carcharinus), with no difference in the capture rates of yellowfin tuna (T. albacares), shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus), hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini and S. zygaena), and dolphinfish or mahi mahi (Coryphaena hippurus). On the other hand, a significant decrease in the capture rate of swordfish (Xiphias gladius) was detected when using circle hooks.
  • 5.
    Overall, results support the effectiveness of using circle hooks for the conservation of loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles, with positive effects on capture of most target species of the south-western Atlantic longline fishery. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.