Sea Turtles and Fisheries
cit"Sea Turtles and Fisheries" publication (.pdf)

Fisheries are a very important livelihood and food source for many people around the world. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that more than 38 million people worldwide are directly engaged in fishing and fish farming as a full-time or part-time occupation. However, in many areas stocks are already overexploited, suggesting that the maximum fishing potential has been reached there. The decline in target species catch forces an increased fishing effort, which leads to a lower selectivity and incidental capture (or “by-catch”) of other species, including sea turtles.

Although sea turtles are threatened or endangered with extinction as a result of many human-related land-based activities, the interaction with fisheries is perhaps the greatest threat to juvenile and adult sea turtle populations worldwide. Sea turtles’ vast migrations and their tendency to concentrate in highly productive areas often coincide with the majority of fishing efforts. Fishing gear such as trawls, pelagic and bottom longlines and gill nets, as well as the ingestion or entanglement in discarded or lost fishing gear, are all cited as major sources of mortality for sea turtles. These problems have led scientists to work hand in hand with fisheries managers and the fishing industry focusing on finding sustainable solutions.

Together, they have developed new techniques and fishing gear that significantly reduce or show great promise in improving selectivity, thus reducing incidental capture of sea turtles and causing less harm, while at the same time not affecting yields significantly. Some examples of new gear or techniques in the longline industry include the use of circular hooks as opposed to “J” hooks and the placement of longline sets at depths that reduce interaction with sea turtles. In the case of shrimp trawlers, the appropriate use of Turtle Excluder Devices, commonly known as TEDs, has proven to be an effective measure for reducing incidental capture and sea turtle mortality. Improved training in how to free and resuscitate captured sea turtles is also now being offered to more fishermen around the globe. Nevertheless, additional studies and continued research are still needed in order to develop the most effective and commercially viable methods to reduce incidental capture, coupled with increased training efforts and public awareness.

citGuía de liberación de tortugas marinas (.pdf)
Courtesy of Juan Carlos Cantú/Defenders of Wildlife (

"Reduction of environmental impact from tropical shrimp trawling" UNEP-GEF and FAO Project 
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