In an effort to strengthen sea turtle conservation efforts, NOAA Fisheries has produced new outreach materials for the safe handling, release, and reporting for protected species incidentally captured by shrimp trawlers. The outreach placards for sea turtles, smalltooth sawfish, and giant manta ray are attached to this bulletin, and are also available on our website here:
Any captured sea turtle in a comatose or lethargic state must be retained on board, handled, resuscitated, and released according to our established procedures, as deemed practicable and in consideration of best practices for safe vessel and fishing operations. Fishers are legally required to follow these procedures per regulations at 50 CFR 223.206(d)(1). The continued use of turtle excluder devices, in addition to the proper handling, resuscitation, and release of incidentally-captured sea turtles in the shrimp fisheries, are key reasons for the ongoing recovery of threatened and endangered sea turtle species.
Likewise, smalltooth sawfish and giant manta ray must be released in a manner that avoids further injury, to the maximum extent practicable. Proper handling of any protected species incidentally caught during fishery operations is essential to increase the likelihood of its survival.
This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.