June 16 is World Sea Turtle Day.
ISSF supports multiple initiatives for the protection of sea turtles in global tuna fisheries. Many sea turtle populations are in decline, including from fishing pressure, and species are protected by national and international treaties and regulations.
When sea turtles are incidentally caught in purse-seine fisheries, their mortality is low: more than 90% can be released alive into the water. In longline fishing, sea-turtle bycatch rates and survival are greater concerns — and a priority for ISSF and other conservation efforts.
Today’s E News reviews ISSF’s work with scientists, fishers, seafood companies, conservationists, and others in helping to reduce the impact of tuna fishing on the world’s sea turtles.
Turtle Nesting Projects
Among the strategies to help protect sea turtle populations, nesting conservation projects can have one of the largest positive impacts. Nest destruction represents an additional mortality threat to sea turtles and has many causes.
ISSF supports sea turtle research, conservation, and educational projects worldwide — including in Brazil, Tanzania, Peru, and Oman — through a more than $100,000 annual fund created by several ISSF participating companies: Bumble Bee, Thai Union, TriMarine, and StarKist.
Bycatch Mitigation & Prevention
To help researchers identify and disseminate best practices in turtle handling and release, longline tuna fishers and observers have shared their knowledge on effective tools and approaches in ISSF-sponsored workshops. In ISSF guidebooks, infographics and posters, and scientific reports, we outline steps that fishers can follow to safely untangle or de-hook sea turtles, monitor their rest and recovery on deck, and release them into the water.
Fishers can also modify their gear and fishing practices, through “passive mitigation” approaches, to reduce the risk of incidentally catching sea turtles. Longline fishers, for instance, can reduce turtle interactions by using wide circle hooks and fish bait to attract tuna, and set hooks at certain depths.
To avoid turtle entanglement in netting from fish aggregating devices (FADs), fishers should use only non-entangling FAD designs. Our Non-Entangling & Biodegradable FADs Guide illustrates how to build FADs without netting.
Saving Sea Turtles
An infographic shows fishermen how to safely handle sea turtles unintentionally caught during tuna fishing to help them survive.
Featured ISSF Conservation Measure
ISSF Participating Companies are seafood companies that commit to conform to our conservation measures (CM) for improving the long-term health of tuna fisheries. We adopted CM 3.6 Transactions with Vessels Implementing Best Practices for Sharks, Sea Turtles and Seabirds to further support implementation of existing RFMO conservation measures for bycatch mitigation in longline tuna fisheries, and to promote the appropriate use of such techniques by longline fleets globally. All companies were in full conformance with CM 3.6 in our April 2023 audit and compliance report.