The impact of fisheries on marine megafauna is widely known but most studies have focused on commercial fisheries, overlooking the effect of local recreational fisheries. This is particularly important for marine turtles in near-shore habitats that overlap with recreational fisheries. One such area is the Big Bend of Florida which provides important developmental habitat for several species of marine turtles and supports an extensive open-access recreational scallop fishery each year from late June to late September, a period when favorable water temperatures bring more turtles to the area. Thus, this project aims to 1) define the ecological niche and the temporal and spatial distribution of coastal juvenile turtles within the region, 2) determine the overlap between turtles and the scallop fishery; 3) assess if the associated boating/human activity from the scallop fishery affects turtle behavior; 4) determine the local sociocultural context of fishers and their willingness to change behavior if necessary; and 5) identify effective ways to reduce impacts to turtles and their habitats.
THE EFFECTS OF RECREATIONALFISHERIES ON MARINE TURTLES
Chris Sasso, NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center
Sea Turtle License Plate