Evaluation of a long-term information tool reveals continued suitability for identifying bycatch hotspots but little effect on fisher location choice
Bycatch represents a critical threat to many marine megafauna species. Dynamic ocean management (DOM) has been proposed as means to reduce bycatch interactions but currently, most DOMs provide information products only. These products delineate spatiotemporal areas of high bycatch of specific species with the goal of helping fishers engage in self-directed avoidance. However, the efficacy of information-based DOMs depends on fishers' use and their incentives to do so. We reviewed one of the longest and earliest DOM informational products, TurtleWatch, which is a U.S. government program to provide information to help Hawai'i shallow set pelagic longline fishers avoid North Pacific loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) interactions based on a specific sea surface temperature band. Though TurtleWatch continues to identify a zone of higher interactions, fishers have not been incentivized to use the product. Further, the rate of interactions has increased since TurtleWatch's deployment in 2005, and fishers continued to operate within and closer to the recommended avoidance area as interaction limits were approached. This indicates that the interaction limit, which was shared among all fishers, may have created a common pool resource that disincentivizes individual fishers to avoid hotspots of loggerhead bycatch. As the majority of DOM relies on similar informational products and incentives, our findings suggest strong and appropriate incentives are needed for DOM to reduce bycatch.