Longline Fishing Takes Heavy Toll on Turtles

Yesterday we wrote about longline fishing wiping out large numbers of albatrosses; today, there’s news that the fishing technique is messing with another charismatic critter — the sea turtle. “In the year 2000, longline fishermen from 40 nations set at least 1.4 billion hooks on longlines that average about 40 miles long,” said Duke University researcher Larry Crowder, speaking at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle, Wash. Loggerhead and leatherback turtles in the Pacific Ocean have a 40 to 60 percent chance of meeting up with one of those hooks in the course of a year, he reports, and though not all die as a result, too many do: 200,000 loggerheads and 50,000 leatherbacks annually. Crowder, who has submitted his research to the journal Ecology Letters, says fast action is needed to prevent the turtles from being wiped out.