WWF: Turtle-Safe Fishing Gear Makes a Difference
Alternative fishing gear has successfully prevented significant turtle mortality without affecting fish catches, according to a report released today by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC).
The report, "Bycatch Initiative: Eastern Pacific Program, A Vehicle Towards Sustainable Fisheries," details the successes of switching from the classic J hooks to circular hooks as well as providing fishermen adequate training and tools to release accidentally caught turtles.
"The results keep demonstrating that changing to circular hooks is the right choice, since it favors turtle conservation without having an impact on the economy of artisanal fisheries," says Moises Mug, coordinator of the WWF Bycatch Initiative for the Eastern Pacific. "Together with fishermen we are building a culture for sustainable fishing practices that will guarantee fish stocks in the long term."
The report is an analysis of data collected over four years of work in eight Eastern Pacific countries: Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
The program included voluntary participation of nearly 1,300 fishermen conducting more than 1,400 fishing trips on 305 artisanal fishing boats. The data shows significant turtle bycatch reduction for the tuna, billfish, shark and mahimahi fisheries.