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Fishery May Harm Only|17 Endangered Turtles

WASHINGTON (CN) - The National Marine Fisheries Service has rolled back the number of endangered loggerhead turtles that can become ensnared or otherwise harmed by Hawaiian longline fishing operations, from 46 to 17.

The agency's action is part of a settlement reached with the Turtle Island Restoration Network, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Kahea: The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance, which sued the agency, arguing that a rule change raising the number of turtles that could be killed or injured, from 17 to 46 per season, violated the loggerheads' protection under the Endangered Species Act.

To enforce limitations on interaction with the turtles, all fishing vessels must carry neutral observers to document each deployment of the long line of hooks the ships trail behind them.

The agency granted seven of the nine population segments of loggerheads around the world endangered status just last year.

Fishing, both net and long-line, is the number one threat to loggerheads, despite provisions in most world fishing conventions to protect the species.

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