Identification of Potential Sea Turtle Bycatch Hotspots Using a Spatially Explicit Approach in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
A spatially explicit participatory approach was used to collect fishing effort and sea turtle bycatch data from local fishers at 15 ports in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. These data were combined with satellite telemetry data to define potential bycatch hotspots. This is the first participatory and spatially explicit study on sea turtle bycatch rates in the region. Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) were the most frequently caught bycatch species, followed by loggerheads (Caretta caretta) and green turtles (Chelonia mydas). Gillnets were the most dangerous for sea turtles, with the greatest incidence of dead turtles caught. Three particular bycatch hotspots were identified at the northeast, northwest, and southwest coasts of the peninsula. Identification of bycatch hotspots is recognized worldwide as a key element for protecting these endangered species, particularly in a region such as the Yucatan Peninsula that harbors critical habitats for ≥ 4 sea turtle species, 2 of them categorized as critically endangered (hawksbills and Kemp's ridleys [Lepidochelys kempii]). The spatially explicit participatory approach is versatile, easy to implement, and strategic for generating information under marine spatial planning for endangered species conservation.