Final Rule for Sea Turtle Limits in the Hawaii Shallow-Set Longline Fishery
This final rule revises measures that govern interactions between the Hawaii shallow-set pelagic longline fishery and sea turtles. This rule lowers the annual fleet interaction limit (“hard cap”) for leatherback sea turtles from 26 to 16, and removes the annual fleet hard cap for North Pacific loggerhead turtles. This rule also creates individual trip interaction limits of two leatherback and five North Pacific loggerhead turtle interactions, with accountability measures for reaching a limit. This rule provides managers and fishermen with the necessary tools to respond to and mitigate changes in North Pacific loggerhead and leatherback turtle interactions to ensure a continued supply of fresh domestic swordfish to U.S. markets, consistent with the conservation needs of these sea turtles. This action also ensures that the Hawaii shallow-set longline fishery operates in compliance with the conditions of a recent biological opinion. This rule is effective on September 17, 2020.