Coronavirus, turtle protections crush market expectations for Pacific swordfish

National Fisherman

Dissolving market conditions related to covid-19 are expected to stymie the economics of the West Coast swordfish longline fishery, if sea turtle bycatch limits don’t get to them first.

In August 2019, the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council elected to impose an annual hard cap limit of 16 leatherback turtle interactions on the fleet. Interactions equates to any form of entanglement, and the council noted that the majority of animals are released unharmed.

Though the council did not call for a hard cap limit on interactions with loggerhead turtles, based on evidence that the population appears to be rebuilding at an annual rate of about 2.4 percent, other stipulations apply. By then, the 2019 longline season had already come and gone.

The Hawaiian shallow-water longline fishery closed in late March after the fleet hit the 17th incident of accidental hooking of a turtle. As of March 18, this year the fleet had interactions with 13 loggerhead turtles of its 17-turtle cap, and had interactions with 2 of the 26 interactions they can have with leatherbacks.

Read more >