March 20, 2014
Representing recreational fishermen, the Coastal Conservation Association North Carolina reacted Monday to last week’s Notice of Intent (NOI) filed by the N.C. Fisheries Association and the Carteret County Fisheries Association to sue several federal and state agencies for violations of the Endangered Species Act.
Maintaining the ESA should be applied equally, the violations allege that while the agencies require commercial fishermen — those who provide restaurants and markets with seafood — to report any interaction with sea turtles, recreational fishermen have been exempt. And between Jan. 1 and Sept. 6, 2013, the N.C. Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network reported 28 strandings of endangered or threatened sea turtles directly attributable to hook and line fishing, or 45% of all strandings reported in that period.
And in recent years, the National Marine Fisheries Services estimates that boat strikes by recreational boaters, who are also not required to report hitting sea turtles, are the second highest non-fisheries related cause of mortality in loggerheads, a threatened species along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. The NMFS said the hulls or propellers of recreational fishing boats injured or killed 15% to 20% of loggerhead.