FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kate Naughten
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service will hold a series of scoping workshops in July and August to explore potential management measures that will allow pelagic longline fishermen to continue fishing while also providing protection for endangered and threatened sea turtles. The potential measures are outlined in a new biological opinion recently issued by NOAA Fisheries. According to the opinion, the measures must reduce by 75 percent the number of loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles accidentally captured, injured or killed by gear associated with the pelagic longline fishery.
"We are facing a serious challenge here. We have a critical time line and a substantial goal to reach," said NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Penny Dalton. "We want to work with fishermen to determine which combination of measures will effectively minimize turtle takes and cause the least disruption to fishing operations."
Based on the reduction goal, and the stringent Endangered Species Act requirements, NOAA Fisheries must implement short-term management measures to protect the turtles by Sept. 30, 2000. These regulations will serve as provisional measures until a more comprehensive approach can be developed.
The Atlantic pelagic longline fisheries
include the swordfish, tuna and shark fisheries. Management measures
may include time/area closures, gear restrictions and monitoring
The agency-sponsored scoping workshops to gather comments on the issues and the management options that the agency should consider in addressing the requirements of the opinion and in preparing a supplemental environmental impact statement will be held on the following dates:
Comments on the proposal to prepare the supplemental environmental impact statement and suggestions for the times and locations of additional public meetings should be sent to: Rebecca Lent, Chief, Highly Migratory Species Management Division (F/SF1), Office of Sustainable Fisheries, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or can be sent by fax at (301) 713-1917. Contact: Margo Schulze-Haugen, Karyl Brewster-Geisz or Steve Meyers, 301-713-2347; fax 301-713-1917.