After a very successful campaign in April, Submon’s veterinarian Mariluz Parga went back to the US in September to continue with the project carried out in collaboration with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), aimed at reducing the post-release mortality of incidentally captured marine turtles after interaction with US longline fishermen.
On this occasion there were two very distinct actions. In Oahu (Hawaii), the activities were centered on NOAA fishery observers and their trainers, and other NOAA staff related to sea turtle conservation. Fishermen in Hawaii are difficult to reach due to long fishing trips, but observer coverage in swordfish longline fisheries are 100%, and therefore observers can be a good tool to reach and train fishermen.
Talk about Submon’s experience working with commercial longline fishermen for staff at NOAA’s IRC in Pearl Harbour (O’ahu, Hawaii) Practical session on hook removal for NOAA staff at IRC (Hawaii)
In the Northeast coast of the US the activities consisted mainly on training workshops for commercial longline fishermen. These were carried out in Wanchese (North Carolina), Barnegat Light (New Jersey), Point Judith (Rhose Island), Fairhaven (Massachusetts) and Harpswell (Maine). Two further meetings were organized with the “Marine Mammal Entanglement Group” of the National Marine Fisheries Service – Greater Atlantic Regional Office in Gloucester (Massachusetts) and with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland (Maine). These meetings were set in order to discuss how tools developed and used to work with large marine turtles could be adapted to work with entangled whales and with incidentally captured blue fin tuna, respectively.
Training workshop for commercial longline fishermen in Fairhaven (Massachusetts), organized at the offices of a fishing dock.
During the whole project, a total of 160 hook and line fishermen, tackle dealers, enforcement officers, NOAA scientists, fishery obervers and trainers from Hawaii, the Gulf of Mexico and the US East coast have been engaged in these training workshops to improve their knowledge on best handling and de-hooking techniques on incidentally captured marine turtles.
The last activity of the project includes the production of a short training video directed at US longline fishermen. After the conversations carried out with fishermen, observers, scientists and NOAA staff, this video will explain the recommended handling and de-hooking techniques in sea turtles based on the specific problems and requirements of the fishery in the US.
Once again SUBMON would like to thank C. Bergmann, from NOAA’s Pascagoula Laboratory, for previously organizing all the workshops in the Northeast coast, and for accompanying SUBMON’s veterinarian during all the work. We would also like to thank Drs. A. Torres, I. Kelly, S. Arceneaux and J. Wang, from NOAA’s office in Honolulu, for organizing all activities with NOAA staff and fishery observers in Hawaii.