Turtles are magnificent creatures that, like all other living species, play a significant part in the marine animal ecosystem. There are about 4,600 turtles that die each year, and some are victims of climate change, pollution. Some are hunted for money, wrapped in networks, or hooked on fish-set bait lines. It is heart-breaking to lose sea turtles as bycatch among fisheries. However, a recent study reveals that since 1990, there’s a 90 percent decline in the population of sea turtles.
About the study
Recently, a report was published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation, which was performed by the Environmental and Conservation International project of Duke University. The researchers reported that 4,600 sea turtle population is perishing annually in U.S. coastal waters, which reflect a 90-percent decline in the premature death rates. Overall, bycatch of turtles, including all non-fatal and fatal interactions, has been reduced by about 60 percent.
Good news for fisheries
According to the researchers, the good is that the fisheries’ attempts over the past two decades to implement recent bycatch management initiatives have made a considerable dent. This included the use of longline circle hooks that are less likely to catch a turtle after the baited hook. The use of ‘turtle excluder devices’ on nets that allow turtles to escape after being caught. It rules on keeping them out of specific areas during times when turtles are most likely to be present.
Today, as a result of climate change, habitat loss, fishing, and unintentional entanglement due to water contamination, almost all species of sea turtles are still endangered. Nevertheless, while the loss of 4,600 sea turtle population each year as bycatch remains a serious issue and all six marine turtle species present in U.S. waters are currently classified as threatened or endangered sea turtles in the country’s list of endangered animals. The list of endangered sea turtles include leatherbacks, hawksbills, loggerheads, kemp ridleys, olive ridleys, and green sea turtles. Commercial fishing and habitat loss along the coast have been the main threats to sea turtles.
The critical issue still needs more improvement
The researchers have emphasized a critical problem that still needs to be changed. The GloBAL project aims at characterizing the bycatch of marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds by synthesizing existing bycatch information from various sources and across different various geographic regions. It is currently collaborating with regional partners and initiatives to gain a more comprehensive perspective on bycatch problems at the local as well as global level. Project GloBAL hopes that its analyzes will provide a multi-dimensional view of bycatch on a regional scale and will assist resource managers in designing successful strategies for reducing bycatch of marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds.
So even if we have good news of the report states that the fisheries’ attempts over the past two decades have reduced to a greater extent. However, the bad news is that we are still losing thousands of sea turtle population every year that are found in U.S. waters. Almost all the species of turtles in the U.S. are currently classified as threatened or endangered sea turtles in the country’s list of endangered animals.