Fisheries bycatch is considered to be the most significant threat to all seven species of sea turtles. Green sea turtles and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are listed as Endangered and Critically Endangered, respectively, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
While sea turtles can be caught and killed in most types of fisheries, bottom trawls, gillnets/trammel nets, demersal gear, and longlines are the biggest contributors to sea turtle bycatch.
The following are some best practices to reduce unintended interactions with sea turtles in fisheries. (As our initiative develops, we will expand this list to include more best practices for all types of fishing gear:
In the Gulf of Mexico, six different fishery improvement projects are working to reduce impacts on sea turtles by asking shrimpers to conduct proactive gear inspections of their Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), to catch and fix problems and ensure the devices are working effectively. These efforts have generated a high degree of compliance, and recent inspections show that this program has been effective in protecting sea turtles. An estimated 99.5 percent of the US Gulf of Mexico shrimp harvest is covered by these FIPs.