Marine turtle interaction with purse-seine fishery in the Atlantic and Indian oceans: Lessons for management
Bycatch of endangered marine turtles is a growing issue for the management of all fisheries, including the oceanic purse-seine fishery. The aim of this study was to assess the spatial and temporal variation in bycatch rates of these species in the entire European purse-seine fishery operating in the Atlantic and Indian oceans. The study was based on data collected through observer programs from 1995 to 2011. During that period, a total of 15 913 fishing sets were observed, including 6 515 on Drifting Fish Aggregating Devices (DFADs) and 9 398 on free swimming schools, representing a global coverage of 10.3% and 5.1% of the total fishing activity in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, respectively. Moreover, from 2003 to 2011, 14 124 specific observations were carried out on DFADs to check turtle entanglement in the net covering DFADs. We found that the purse-seine fishery has a very low impact on marine turtles. We estimated that the annual number of individuals incidentally captured was 218 (SD = 150) and 250 (SD = 157) in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, respectively, with more than 75% being released alive. The present study also investigated the impact of DFADs; which is considered a key conservation issue for this fishery. Drifting objects may play a key role in aggregating juveniles of marine turtles, implying the need for improving their construction to avoid entanglement (e.g. avoiding nets in the structure); however, based on our study it is not the main source of incidental captures of marine turtles in this fishery.