Preventing Sea Turtle Bycatch
We have a lot of work ahead of us if we are going to protect and save the oceans. One of the biggest issues is the depletion of many marine species including sea turtles. Sea turtle bycatch is among one of the most serious threats they face.
The definition of bycatch can vary depending on the organization or individual you ask. In general, it is any marine life incidentally caught or harmed as a result of commercial fishing. When it comes to sea turtle bycatch, there are issues like the turtles getting accidentally caught, tangled in discarded nets, and swallowing fishing hooks.
If we are going to save these animals, we need to start reducing sea turtle bycatch today. What can be done to reduce the sea turtle bycatch rate? Read on to learn about some of the solutions being deployed to protect sea turtles from commercial fishing operations.
Nets are one of the biggest problems for sea turtles and other marine animals caught as bycatch. They just get cast into the water and scoop up everything in their path. One sea turtle bycatch solution that is showing great promise is the use of lights on nets.
The new nets work by having LED or chemical glow lights attached to the netting. While researchers are not sure why it is effective at reducing sea turtle bycatch in trawl nets, it has been shown to protect a variety of species. In one study, illuminated nets reduced bycatch by 63% without having a significant impact on harvesting the target species.
Avoid Products With High Rates of Bycatch
As a consumer, you can help reduce sea turtle bycatch by avoiding products with high rates of bycatch. For example, products like shrimp and grouper tend to have higher bycatch rates. If consumers are more conscious about their seafood purchases, it will incentivize sustainable fishing practices.
With that said, you don’t have to avoid seafood altogether. You don’t even have to avoid eating the types of fish that typically have high rates of bycatch. Consumers can support sea turtle bycatch prevention by only buying from companies that use sustainable fishing practices. One way to do this is to look for the seal of the Marine Stewardship Council when you shop for seafood.
Better Hook Design
Sea turtles can often have problems with fishing hooks. The fishermen might not be after turtles, but the bait can still attract turtles. They go after what seems like an easy meal and then get hooked by the fishermen. In some cases, they swallow the hooks, and it leads to death.
Some commercial fishing boats are reducing sea turtle bycatch by using hooks with better designs. One way to protect turtles is to use hooks without barbs on the ends. Beyond that, the shape of the hook can matter. Instead of the old J-shaped hooks, newer hooks with more of an O-shape can prevent green sea turtle bycatch.
As we mentioned before, nets can be one of the biggest problems for sea turtles and other species caught as bycatch. It is an even bigger problem when you look at trawling operations. With that said, newer net designs are reducing sea turtle bycatch in trawling nets.
Net designs can work in several ways to reduce bycatch. One way is to have nets made of selective panels. The panels have different size holes and holes that face different angles. With the right design, the net will catch more of the target species while reducing the amount of bycatch.
Promote Sea Turtle Conservation
One final way to protect sea turtles is to promote conservation. At Fahlo, we do that with our sea turtle tracking bracelets. We donate a portion of the profits from every sale to the Sea Turtle Conservancy. Along with that, the customer gets a stylish bracelet to show their support and a real sea turtle they can track.