Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Written by Adrianne Madden
September 16, 2011
A study led by researcher Elena Finkbeiner, completed during her doctoral studies at Duke University and published in the November issue of the journal Biological Conservation, reveals confusing results on sea turtle interactions and bycatch rates in U.S. fisheries.
According to an Associated Press story, "This is one of the key messages — there's a lot of inconsistency in how the different fisheries are managed," said Elizabeth Wilson, senior manager for marine wildlife for the nonprofit Oceana, which was not involved in the study.
What some call "inconsistencies" I call "successful fishery management." Streamlining an approach to management in fisheries as various as Hawaii's pelagic longline fleet and Northeast scallop trawlers would be yet another a bureaucratic nightmare for fishermen and managers alike.
The big headline, of course, is that 4,600 sea turtles are killed annually in the U.S. fishing industry. Before you get up in arms, take note that sea turtle bycatch deaths fell 90 percent between 1990 and 2007.
It seems to me, we are succeeding in significantly reducing bycatch without putting undue strain on struggling fishermen. We are doing that by focusing on fisheries individually, a tactic the study criticizes.
I'm a strong proponent of improving gear and reducing bycatch, but let's go at it fishery by fishery if we want to continue a high rate of success.
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