PIFSC Sea Turtle Longline Research EA June 1, 2009
Projects conducted by the WPRFMC for sea turtle conservation for conserving and protecting loggerhead and leatherback nesting sites in Papua Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Yakushima Japan (WPRFMC 2005) and reducing loggerhead mortality in coastal fisheries in Baja California Sur, Mexico (WPRFMC 2008) are evaluated in separate EAs and are therefore not included within the scope of this PEA.
1.4.5 Species caught as bycatch or targeted fisheries not included in scope of PEA decision with rationale
This PEA only evaluates and makes decisions regarding FSBAD research on sea turtles in pelagic longline fisheries. Other species are also caught as bycatch in pelagic longline research, but this PEA does not evaluate nor make decisions on research related to these other species for the following reasons:
Seabirds as bycatch in longline fisheries: Seabird mortality in longline fisheries is the most critical global threat to most albatross and large petrel species, including in the Hawaii-based longline fishery (Gilman and Kobayashi 2007). For Hawaii-based longline fisheries, regulations requiring seabird avoidance methods were first adopted in June 2001, decreasing total seabird captures from over 2,400 captures in 2000 to 88 in 2006. Subsequently, similar actions were also adopted by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission for implementation by all Commission members, cooperating non-members, and participating Territories (Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission 2007). Actions to decrease seabird bycatch are substantially different from those for decreasing sea turtle bycatch and do not include circle hooks and fish bait on hooks. In addition, seabird bycatch mostly occurs above 23oN and below 23oS latitude in areas where FSBAD sea turtle research does not and would not occur (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels 2007). Therefore, this PEA does not include any decisions regarding research on reducing seabird bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries.
Flatback sea turtle (Natator depressus): This species is geographically limited to the shallow waters and coral reefs of Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea north of 15oS, which are outside the zones of the international longline fishery. Therefore, this species is not included within the current and proposed research program.
Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii): Adults of this species nest along the Gulf coasts of Mexico and U.S. and the Atlantic coast of North America to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. They forage in nearshore and inshore waters of the northern and southern Gulf of Mexico, often in salt marsh habitats, which are outside the zones of the domestic and international longline fishery. Therefore, this species is not included within the current and proposed research program for pelagic longline fisheries.
Marine mammals caught as bycatch in worldwide longline fisheries: The Hawaii deep-set commercial longline fishery is identified by NMFS as a Category I fishery per the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the shallow-set fishery is identified as a Category II fishery because these fisheries have frequent incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals (FR 73(231):73056, 12/01/08). This puts the Hawaiian-based longline fisheries as requiring compliance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), including requirements for vessel