FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Stephanie Dorezas
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, an agency of the Commerce Department, has extended its requirement that fishermen deploying longlines on the water's surface carry the tools needed to release entangled sea turtles with minimal harm. A temporary requirement for these devices, a dipnet and a line clipper, has been in effect since October 2000.
"These simple and inexpensive safeguards will help protect sea turtles for future generations," said Bill Hogarth, NOAA fisheries acting director. "Fishermen have used these devices successfully for the last six months. It's important that we continue maximizing our species recovery efforts while maintaining fishing opportunities."
The dipnet is a mesh net used to gently bring a small sized sea turtle on the vessel in order to untangle the gear. The dipnet handle must be greater than 6 feet in length and be made of a material that can support a minimum of 100 pounds without breaking or bending. It must also have a net hoop of at least 31 inches inside diameter and a bag depth of at least 38 inches. The mesh may be no more than 3 inches by 3 inches.
The line clipper is used for large sea turtles that cannot be brought aboard. It is a pole at least six feet in length topped with a protected cutting blade to prevent accidental contact with a sea turtle. The blade must be securely fastened to the handle and capable of cutting the fishing gear currently deployed by that vessel.
The agency is collecting comments on this requirement through April 30th. At the close of the comment period, the agency will consider all comments and will issue a final rule. NOAA fisheries encourages the public to send their comments to Christopher Rogers, acting chief, NMFS Highly Migratory Species Management Division, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or by fax to (301) 713-1917.
For further information please refer to the Federal Register publication, available online on March 30, 2001, at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces140.html, or individuals can contact Margo Schulze-Haugen or Tyson Kade at (301) 713-2347.
Copies of the Environmental Assessment
/ Regulatory Impact Review and the Interim Final Rule are
available upon request.