Incidental catch of marine turtles by Italian trawlers and longliners in the central Mediterranean

Authors


Abstract

  • 1.The fishing effort and turtle catch of vessels harbouring at Lampedusa island and fishing in the wider central Mediterranean area was monitored using a voluntary logbook programme. Two large trawlers were monitored between 2003 and 2005 and six small vessels using trawl nets, pelagic longline or bottom longline were monitored in the summer 2005.
  • 2.The observed turtle catch rates of pelagic longline and bottom trawl were among the highest recorded in the basin, and high catch rates by bottom longline were observed too. This suggests that the area contains major oceanic and neritic habitats for the loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta in the Mediterranean Sea.
  • 3.When fishing effort is considered, these results suggest a very high number of captures by Italian trawlers and longliners in the area, as well as by fleets from other countries. This is reason of concern for the conservation of the loggerhead turtle within the Mediterranean Sea.
  • 4.Different fishing gear have different technical/operational characteristics affecting turtle catch and mortality and the present knowledge about associated parameters of these gear varies too.
  • 5.All this considered, specific actions are recommended: (i) an awareness campaign to fishermen to reduce post-release mortality, (ii) technical modifications to pelagic longline gear to reduce turtle catch, (iii) further investigation into turtle bycatch in all fishing gear, with priority given to bottom longline fishing and quantification of mortality caused by trawlers, (iv) assessment of the turtle populations affected by fishing activity in the area, and (v) international cooperation in undertaking threat assessments, and implementing regulations, management measures and monitoring.

Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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