Sea Turtle Limits in the Hawaii Shallow-set Longline Fishery
NOAA Fisheries proposes to revise measures that govern interactions between the Hawaii shallow-set pelagic longline fishery and sea turtles. Based on recommendations from the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), we would lower the annual fleet interaction limit (“hard cap”) for leatherback sea turtles from 26 to 16, and remove the annual fleet hard cap for North Pacific loggerhead turtles (currently 17). NOAA Fisheries would also create individual trip interaction limits of two leatherback and five North Pacific loggerhead turtle interactions, with accountability measures for reaching a limit. The proposed rule would provide 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. The action also ensures that the Hawaii shallow-set longline fishery operates in compliance with the Reasonable and Prudent Measures (RPMs) and associated Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) of a biological opinion (BiOp) issued by NOAA Fisheries on June 26, 2019.
NOAA Fisheries must receive comments by March 20, 2020.