Saving Sea Turtles - NOAA's new handling guidelines

NOAA has updated their handbook 'Careful release protocols for sea turtle release with minimal injury'. These illustrated, 'how to' guidelines provide comprehensive and straightforward instructions for safe handling and release of sea turtles caught in hook-and-line, gillnet, trawl and fixed gear fisheries. Interactions with other species (e.g., marine mammals and seabirds) are discussed briefly.

Incidental capture in fishing gear can injure or kill sea turtles. NOAA's handbook aims to assist fishers reduce the severity of injury during capture and release events.The guidelines explain that post-release survival may be dependent upon several variables:

  • the nature of the interactions (hooking location and/or entanglement),
  • how carefully the animals are handled during boating and gear removal, and
  • the amount and location of gear remaining at release.

The handbook includes revised advice on gear removal priorities and an explanation of the rationale behind making important decisions, such as when to bring an animal on board and when to remove hooks. New safe handling tools (dehooker, hoop net and line cutter) are described.

You can read the new guidelines here.


Bringing a turtle on board using a dip net