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Keywords:

  • ocean;
  • coastal;
  • conservation evaluation;
  • modelling;
  • management strategy evaluation;
  • reptiles;
  • sea turtle;
  • fishing;
  • bycatch

ABSTRACT

  1. Human-caused mortality threatens many marine turtle populations worldwide, with fisheries interactions being a primary cause for population declines. National and international management of fisheries interactions with marine turtles are rarely tied to turtle population biology. Quantitative tools tied to population-based objectives can provide insight into the effectiveness and urgency of bycatch mitigation.
  2. A management approach is proposed based on a bycatch control rule called Reproductive Value Loss Limit (RVLL), generalized from the Potential Biological Removal management model for marine mammal populations. For RVLL, population size is scaled by reproductive value to account for strongly age-structured population dynamics and age-dependent fisheries mortality rates in marine turtle populations.
  3. RVLL is an estimate of maximum sustainable mortality for a population, calculated from estimates of maximum population growth rate, total reproductive value in the population, and an uncertainty factor. RVLL estimates correspond to specified management goals and risk tolerances. For demonstration, simultaneous goals of maintaining populations above the maximum net productivity level (analogous to the population size that produces maximum sustainable yield) and preventing a decrease in adults are assumed, both with 95% probability. A management-strategy-evaluation-like process was used to explore parameterization of the RVLL equation for robust performance over a range of plausible life history characteristics and uncertainties in abundance and bycatch mortality estimates for marine turtle populations.
  4. The RVLL-based management approach presented here proved robust to several important sources of uncertainty and to violation of several key underlying assumptions, and can be adapted to account for important sources of bias. The architecture presented, including tailored management strategy evaluation, provides a useful basis for further development of reference-point-based management of human-added mortality in populations that experience large changes with age in reproductive value and human-caused mortality rates, as is the case for marine turtles.

Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.