Effect of type of bait on pelagic longline fishery–loggerhead turtle interactions in the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia)
* 1.Sea turtles may migrate vast distances from their feeding areas to home rookeries where they nest. During these migrations sea turtles are subject to many threats, among which are interactions with pelagic longlines. * 2.This gear is used frequently in the summer period in the Gulf of Gabes targeting mainly the sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus). Hooks are baited with mackerel (Scomber scombrus) or pieces of stingray (Dasyatis pastinaca). * 3.Twenty-one fishing trips (48 sets with a total of 35 950 hooks deployed) were conducted using onboard observers in the south of the Gulf of Gabes during the months of July, August and September in 2007 and 2008. Stingray and mackerel bait were used in 19 and 29 sets, respectively. * 4.In total, 29 loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) were captured; the majority of them were juvenile and active. Turtles were caught at a statistically greater frequency on sets with hooks baited with mackerel than on sets with hooks baited with pieces of stingray. * 5.The type of bait also affected the catch of the target species by increasing the efficiency when pieces of stingrays were used. * 6.These results encourage further research into new baits to mitigate turtle catch by longline fisheries without affecting the catch of target species. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.