EU purse seine fishery interaction with marine turtles in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans: a 15 years analyses

Bycatch of marine turtles, vulnerable or endangered species, is a growing issue of all fisheries, including Oceanic purse-seine fishery. The present paper seeks to assess marine turtle bycatch at a spatial and temporal level in the European purse seine fishery operating in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The study was based on data collected through French and Spanish observer programs from 1995 to 2011, a period where more than 230 000 fishing sets were realized by the UE fleets in both Oceans. A total of 15 913 fishing sets were observed, including 6 515 on drifting Fish Aggregate Devices (FAD) and 9 398 on Free Swimming Schools (FSC). Over the study period, 597 turtles were caught, 86% being released alive at sea. At the same time, from 2003 to 2011, 14 124 specific observations were carried out on floating objects whether they ended in a set or not. 354 marine turtles were observed upon which 80% were already free or entangled alive and therefore released alive. At the temporal and spatial level, data were organized and analysed by Ocean, fishing mode (FAD vs. FSC) as well as by year, quarter and statistical square of 1°. In order to evaluate the impact if this fishery in both Oceans, bycatch distribution was compared to the total fishing effort of the UE fleet, as well as to the known marine turtle post nesting migration routes, nesting population abundances and known feeding areas. The species composition, the size and sex structure of bycatch are also discussed here. At last, an attempt to raise the data to the total fishing effort was carried out. Based on observation of marine turtle by-catches on sets, we estimated that, globally, 3500 marine turtles were accidentally captured by the EU-PS fleet in the Atlantic Ocean from 1995 to 2010, and around 2000 in the Indian Ocean from 2003 to 2010, with a corresponding annual bycatch rate of 218 (SD=150; survival rate =91%) and 250 (SD=157; survival rate =77%) respectively in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. However, because of important uncertainties mainly due to the low observation coverage and the scarcity of marine turtle bycatch events, it was impossible to produce solid and reliable global estimates of marine turtle bycatch and mortality due to PS activity.


European tuna fishery, purse seine, marine turtle, bycatch, Atlantic and Indian Oceans

How to cite
Clermont Sandra, Chavance Pierre, Delgado de Molina Alicia, Murua Hilario, Ruiz Jon, Ciccione Stephane, Bourjea Jerome (2012). EU purse seine fishery interaction with marine turtles in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans: a 15 years analyses. Ref. IOTC 2012 WPEB08 35_V2.

Copy this text