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Evaluation of a Long-Term Information Tool Reveals Continued Suitability for Identifying Bycatch Hotspots but Little Effect on Fisher Location Choice

January 26, 2023

We reviewed one of the longest and earliest DOM informational products, TurtleWatch.

Bycatch represents a critical threat to many large marine mammal species. Dynamic ocean management (DOM) has been proposed as means to reduce bycatch interactions but currently, most DOMs provide information products only.

However, the efficacy of information-based DOMs depends on fishers' use and their incentives to do so. We reviewed one of the longest and earliest DOM informational products, TurtleWatch, which is a U.S. government program to provide information to help Hawai'i shallow set pelagic longline fishers avoid North Pacific loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) interactions based on a specific sea surface temperature band.

Though TurtleWatch continues to identify a zone of higher interactions, fishers have not been incentivized to use the product. Further, the rate of interactions has increased since TurtleWatch's deployment in 2005, and fishers continued to operate within and closer to the recommended avoidance area as interaction limits were approached.

This indicates that the interaction limit, which was shared among all fishers, may have created a common pool resource that disincentivizes individual fishers to avoid hotspots of loggerhead bycatch. As the majority of DOM relies on similar informational products and incentives, our findings suggest strong and appropriate incentives are needed for DOM to reduce bycatch.

Siders ZA, Ahrens NM, Martin S, Camp EV, Gaos AR, Wang JH, Marchetti J, Jones TT. 2023. Evaluation of a long-term information tool reveals continued suitability for identifying bycatch hotspots but little effect on fisher location choice. Biological Conservation. Volume 279: 109912.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2023.109912.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 03/10/2023