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Fishermen and Turtles May Meet-Up More Often

WASHINGTON (CN) - The National Marine Fisheries Service is allowing more incidental interactions between swordfish fishing boat personnel and endangered turtles.

The annual number of interactions allowed between the Hawaii-based shallow-set pelagic longline fishery, and the endangered leatherback and North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles has gone from 16 and 17, respectively, to 26 and 34.

Interactions with fishing boats is hazardous to marine turtles because they may become tangled in fishing lines and may drown or be seriously injured by constricting lines, according to NOAA's Office of Protected Resources website. Gear may also hook turtles in the jaw, esophagus or flippers, says the site. Incidental capture in fishing gear, primarily in longlines and gillnets, is one of the greater threats to marine turtles, according to the site.

If the shallow-set fishery reaches either limit, NMFS closes the fishery for the rest of the year.

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