Endangered Sea Turtles

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Sea turtles and smalltooth sawfish on the Endangered Species List can be wounded or die by becoming entangled in fishing line, hooked, or forced to go underwater in places they do not belong when certain fishing gear to catch snapper and grouper is used off the southern Atlantic states, according to a 2006 National Marine Fisheries Service consultation.

     An amendment to the Fishery Management Plan has been proposed to share the economic impacts of protecting the sea life among recreational and commercial boats, as the current rules added recreational and commercial incidents together and counted them against the commercial fisheries. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council proposed the amendment to the National Marine Fisheries Service for review, approval and implementation.
     The potential amendment would require a vessel for which a commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit has been issued for South Atlantic snapper-grouper to have a document provided by NMFS titled, “Careful Release Protocols for Sea Turtle Release With Minimal Injury”; post the sea turtle handling and release guidelines placard provided by NMFS on the vessel; have sea turtle release gear on board; and follow specified release handling measures for a sea turtle or smalltooth sawfish that is caught incidentally.

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