Rationale for rule making option to require 16/0 circle hooks in tuna directed pelagic longline fisheries to mitigate sea turtle mortality
This paper is a short summary of the findings of 3 years (2001-2003) of research that NOAA completed in the western Atlantic Ocean developing and evaluating sea turtle mitigation measures to reduce the mortality of turtles taken incidentally in the swordfish directed pelagic longline fishery. Experiments covered the impact on sea turtle interactions and target species catch rates of circle hooks versus tuna hooks and mackerel instead of squid bait. Future research is also mentioned. A review of current knowledge of the impacts of circle hooks on loggerheads, leatherbacks, tuna and mahi mahi is also included. In an addendum, NOAA research (2004) in the Gulf of Mexico is detailed. The principle finding is that requiring 18/0 circle hooks in the directed tuna fishery would likely result in substantial economic loss to the fishery.