Design Standards and Equipment for Careful Release of Sea Turtles Caught in Hook-and-Line Fisheries
The purpose of the careful release equipment described in this document is to increase post-release survival of incidentally-captured sea turtles and other animals by releasing them with minimal injury. These design standards describe the minimum specifications to construct or purchase gear that has been approved by the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) for use. Please check with the applicable regulations as the final authority for required tools and specifications in each fishery. This design standards manual is the companion document to the NMFS SEFSC Technical Memorandum Careful Release Protocols for Sea Turtle Release with Minimal Injury (NMFS-SEFSC-TM-735), which details the proper use of this equipment. These specifications have been revised based upon field-testing of equipment, user feedback, and product design updates resulting in part from experiments in the Northeast Distant (NED) statistical reporting area and subsequent experiments and observations. This document contains the NMFS SEFSC approved design standards for currently certified release gear. However, individual fisheries may have more specific design standards; check with the applicable regulations as the final authority for required tools and specifications in each fishery. Note that all approved release gear previously constructed according to original Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Pelagic Longline Fishery design standards (69 FR 40736, July 6, 2004) still qualify for that fishery under these current standards.