PIFSC Sea Turtle Longline Research EA June 1, 2009
to substantially reduce and mitigate sea turtle bycatch, and seabird mitigation such as night- setting. Internationally, the Moratorium Protection Act provides for assistance to nations in qualifying for certification, which includes transfer of effective technology. The Act requires establishment of procedures to certify whether identified nations are taking appropriate corrective actions to address bycatch.
The need for research on reducing sea turtle bycatch and transferring successful technologies to foreign fleets is further emphasized in the Recovery Plans for U.S. populations of Atlantic green turtle (NMFS and USFWS 1991a), Atlantic loggerhead turtle (NMFS and USFWS 1991b), Atlantic leatherback turtle (NMFS and USFWS 1992), Atlantic hawksbill turtle (NMFS and USFWS 1993), east Pacific green turtle (NMFS and USFWS 1998a), Pacific hawksbill turtle (NMFS and USFWS 1998b), Pacific leatherback turtle (NMFS and USFWS 1998c), Pacific loggerhead turtle (NMFS and USFWS 1998d), Pacific olive ridley turtle (NMFS and USFWS 1998e), and Pacific green turtle (NMFS and USFWS 1998f). A Priority #1 (highest priority) goal for east Pacific green, olive ridley, Pacific green, Pacific leatherback and Pacific loggerhead turtles is to monitor and reduce incidental mortality in commercial and recreational fisheries. It is a Priority #2 goal for the Pacific hawksbill, and a Priority #3 goal for Atlantic hawksbills. To monitor fisheries causing turtle mortality and to promulgate regulations to reduce fishery-related mortality are Priority #2 goals for Atlantic green, Atlantic leatherback and Atlantic loggerhead turtles.
Therefore, the proposed research in the domestic and foreign longline fleets and transfer of technology to foreign fleets would meet the requirements of the Endangered Species and Magnuson-Stevens Acts, as well as the recommended actions in sea turtle recovery plans regarding deep-set (targeting tuna) and shallow-set (targeting swordfish) pelagic longline fisheries. However, it is clear that only through cooperative international efforts can the total impacts to global sea turtle populations caused by longline fishing be reversed.
Scope of Analysis of this EA
This Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) provides the detailed descriptions of ongoing and proposed NMFS PIFSC FSBAD research programs for continuing and expanding the program for reducing bycatch of sea turtles while maintaining or improving catch per unit effort (CPUE) of target swordfish and tuna fish species. It includes related FSBAD actions that are ongoing as well as expansion of those actions by PIFSC for meeting stated objectives.
This PEA has no termination date; it is intended to provide the basis for long-term continuation and potential expansion of existing research activities. As long as individual projects are conducted as described in Chapter 2 and the actual impacts associated with implementation remain within the range of impacts as identified in Chapter 3, this document remains current. Per NOAA policy, the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for this PEA will be reviewed for consistency and appropriateness at least every 5 years.