Study Evaluates Impact of Shallow-set Hawaii Longline Fishery on Loggerhead Turtles

Melissa Snover of the PIFSC Protected Species Division recently completed population viability analyses for loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles in the North Pacific and assessed impacts on the populations of a proposal by the Hawaii Longline Association to expand the Hawaii-based shallow-set longline fishery. Since 2004, the shallow-set fishery, which targets swordfish in waters north of Hawaii, has operated at restricted levels of effort and is subject to various conservation measures including limits on interactions with sea turtles, use of circle hooks, and mandatory acceptance of federal scientific observers on each fishing trip. In June 2008, Snover presented her analysis to the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council and its Scientific and Statistical Committee. Afterword, the Council voted to remove the effort limit that has kept the Hawaii swordfish fishery operating at half its historical level of fishing for the past four years. Dr. Snover's analysis is now undergoing independent expert peer review. In a manuscript entitled 'Application of diffusion approximation for risk assessment of sea turtle populations', Snover and colleague Selina Heppell described techniques used in the analysis. The manuscript has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Ecological Applications.

For more information contact: Melissa Snover