WASHINGTON (CN) – To help protect Pacific green turtles, the longline fishing fleet in American Samoa would be required to set line hooks more than 100 meters deep, under regulations proposed by the National Marine Fisheries Services.
Pacific green turtles – which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – can become caught on hooks that are set at depths shallower than 100 meters.
The proposed rules would require the use of weighted floats to keep fishing lines submerged below 100 meters and their locations known at all times. In addition, the fishing fleets would have to use shorter, branching lines deploying the same number of hooks over a smaller area to prevent inadvertent drift into shallow water.
The American Samoa fishery deploys nearly 50 miles of fishing line and nearly 3,000 hooks per day. In 2010, just 26 vessels landed 222,400 albacore tuna and smaller numbers of skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tunas.
Green turtles are found throughout the Pacific Ocean where they, and their eggs, are hunted for food. Green turtles that feed in shallow waters easily can become entangled in fishing nets or caught on hooks from longline fishing vessels.