Marine turtle harvest in a mixed small-scale fishery: Evidence for revised management measures
Stringell, Thomas B.
Broderick, Annette C.
Ocean and Coastal Management
Small-scale fisheries (SSF) account for around half of the world's marine and inland fisheries, but their impact on the marine environment is usually under-estimated owing to difficulties in monitoring and regulation. Successful management of mixed SSF requires holistic approaches that sustainably exploit target species, consider non-target species and maintain fisher livelihoods. For two years, we studied the marine turtle fishery in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) in the Wider Caribbean Region, where the main export fisheries are queen conch (Strombus gigas) and the spiny lobster (Panulirus argus); with fin-fish, green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) taken for domestic consumption. We evaluate the turtle harvest in relation to the other fisheries and recommend legislation and management alternatives. We demonstrate the connectivity between multi-species fisheries and artisanal turtle capture: with increasing lobster catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE), hawksbill catch increased whilst green turtle catch decreased. With increasing conch CPUE, hawksbill catch declined and there was no demonstrable effect on green turtle catch. We estimate 176–324 green and 114–277 hawksbill turtles are harvested annually in TCI: the largest documented legal hawksbill fishery in the western Atlantic. Of particular concern is the capture of adult turtles. Current legislation focuses take on larger individuals that are key to population maintenance. Considering these data we recommend the introduction of maximum size limits for both species and a closed season on hawksbill take during the lobster fishing season. Our results highlight the need to manage turtles as part of a broader approach to SSF management.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier. NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Ocean and Coastal Management. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Ocean and Coastal Management, 2013, Vol. 82, pp. 34 – 42 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2013.05.004
Vol. 82, pp. 34 - 42