New rules implemented to save sea turtles

Recently, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service officials implemented federal regulations intended to increase the survival of sea turtles that are accidentally caught by pelagic fishermen, they said in a press release.

The regulations affect trollers, handliners, and other fishermen who fish in federal waters from three to 200 nautical miles offshore.

Any fisherman who uses hooks to target pelagic fishes (tunas, marlins, wahoo, mahimahi, and other open-ocean fish) in federal waters, and who catches or entangles a sea turtle, must now follow certain procedures for handling, resuscitating, and releasing the turtle.

Pelagic longline fishermen have been required to follow similar procedures for several years. The recently-issued regulations extend the handling, resuscitation and release requirements to most non-longline fishermen for the first time.

If a small-boat fisherman accidentally hooks or entangles a turtle while fishing, the turtle must be handled so as to minimize further injury, and to promote its survival.

The new regulations became effective near the end of last year, and remain in effect until they are revised or removed by NOAA officials.

The full compliance guide, containing details about the handling, resuscitation and release requirements, is available by request from NOAA Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Regional Office, 1601 Kapi‘olani Blvd., Suite 1110, Honolulu, HI 96814, or on the Web site at http://swr.nmfs.noaa.gov/pir.

Those at the NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, are dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events, and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

NOAA Fisheries Service employees are dedicated to protecting and preserving the nation’s living marine resources and their habitat through scientific research, management, and enforcement.

NOAA Fisheries Service officials provide stewardship of these resources for the benefit of others in the nation, supporting those in coastal communities who depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers, and recreational opportunities for members of the American public.

To learn more about NOAA Fisheries Service, visit www.nmfs.noaa.gov.

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