SUBMON, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) have completed during the month of April the first series of training sessions in the U.S. with very satisfactory results, working along the fishing harbors of the Gulf of Mexico and the East coast.
This project, financed by NOAA’s BREP and the ISSF, aims to increase the post-release survival of marine turtles after interaction with US commercial longline vessels through the training of fishermen in the best handling, dehooking and release techniques of accidentally captured turtles. The project is to be carried out in the Gulf of Mexico, East coast and Hawaii, in close collaboration with the staff of the Southeast Fisheries Science Centre and the Pacific Islands Regional Office.
Circle hooks used by the pelagic longline fleet
The first series of training workshops was completed during the month of April in harbors of Florida (Panama City, Madeira Beach), Louisiana (Houma-Du Lac), Maryland (West Ocean City), North Carolina (Morehead) and South Carolina (Port Royal and Cherry Point). An extra training workshop was done during the annual meeting of the Blue Water Fishermen Association in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A total of 90 longline fishermen, boat owners, fish processors, tackle dealers and enforcement officers were engaged in these workshops. Furthermore, about 20 recreational hook and line fishermen were approached on piers of Madeira beach area (Florida) to explain them the best handling procedures if they accidentally captured a marine turtle.
Talk during the annual meeting of the Blue Water Fishermen Association in Atlantic City, New Jersey
A talk and a practical session were also completed during the Sea Turtle Medicine Workshop organized within the 34th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, which took place in New Orleans in April. Approximately 100 professionals from all over the world related to marine turtles attended this talk, while only 15 were allowed to the practical part for logistic reasons.
The next series of training workshop will be carried out in Hawaii, in collaboration with staff of the NOAA Pacific Islands Regional Office, and directed to commercial longline fishermen, fishery observers, and trainers from the NOAA regional office in Honolulu.
SUBMON would like to thank C.Bergmann, from NOAA’s Pascagoula Laboratory, for previously organizing all the workshops in the Gulf of Mexico and the East coast, and for accompanying SUBMON’s veterinarian during all the work, introducing her to the fishermen and taking part in all the workshops. Without him the number of fishermen reached would have been much smaller.