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ESR 53:295-326 (2024)  -  DOI:

Vulnerability of the Critically Endangered leatherback turtle to fisheries bycatch in the eastern Pacific Ocean. II. Assessment of mitigation measures

Shane P. Griffiths1,*,#, Bryan P. Wallace2,3,4,#, Verónica Cáceres2, Luz Helena Rodríguez2, Jon Lopez1, Marino Abrego5, Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto6,7,8, Sandra Andraka9, María José Brito10, Leslie Camila Bustos11, Ilia Cari12, José Miguel Carvajal13, Ljubitza Clavijo12, Luis Cocas11, Nelly de Paz14, Marco Herrera10, Ann Marie Lauritsen15, Jeffrey C. Mangel7,8, Miguel Pérez-Huaripata16, Rotney Piedra17, Javier Antonio Quiñones Dávila16, Liliana Rendón9, Juan M. Rguez-Baron18,19, Heriberto Santana20, Brian Stacy21, Jenifer Suárez22, Yonat Swimmer23, Callie Veelenturf24, Rodrigo Vega12, Patricia Zárate12

1Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, 8901 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
2Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, Fairfax, VA 22046, USA
3Ecolibrium, Inc, Boulder, CO 80303, USA
4Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80310, USA
5Ministerio de Ambiente, Panama City, C-0843-00793 Panamá
6Carrera de Biologia Marina, Universidad Cientifica del Sur, Lima, 15067 Perú
7ProDelphinus, Jose Galvez 780E, Lima, 10680 Perú
8School of Biosciences, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9EZ, UK
9EcoPacifico+, San José, 11801 Costa Rica
10Instituto Público de Investigación de Acuicultura y Pesca, Guayaquil, 090314 Ecuador
11Subsecretaria de Pesca y Agricultura, Valparaiso, 2340000 Chile
12Instituto del Fomento Pesquera, Valparaiso, 2340000 Chile
13Instituto Nacional Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura, Puntarenas, 60101 Costa Rica
14Áreas Costeras y Recursos Marinos, Pisco, 11600 Perú
15US Fish and Wildlife Service, Fairfax, VA 22046, USA
16Instituto del Mar del Perú, Callao, 07021 Peru
17Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación, Nicoya, 50201 Costa Rica
18JUSTSEA Foundation, Bogotá, 1100111 Colombia
19University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC 28403, USA
20Instituto National de Pesca y Acuacultura, Manzanillo, Colima, 28200 Mexico
21Office of Protected Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
22Parque Nacional Galápagos, Puerto Ayora, Galápagos Islands, 200101 Ecuador
23Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Honolulu, HI 96818, USA
24The Leatherback Project, Norfolk, MA 02056, USA
*Corresponding author:
#Joint lead authors

ABSTRACT: Industrial tuna and artisanal fisheries targeting multiple species in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) interact with the Critically Endangered East Pacific (EP) leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea. In 2021, a revised Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) resolution on sea turtles aimed to reduce sea turtle bycatch in EPO industrial tuna fisheries and ensure their safe handling and release. A new ecological risk assessment approach—Ecological Assessment for the Sustainable Impacts of Fisheries (EASI-Fish)—was used to assess vulnerability status and to better understand the potential efficacy of 70 scenarios that compared simulated conservation and management measures (CMMs) for EPO industrial (purse-seine and longline) and artisanal (longline and gillnet) fisheries to the status quo in 2019. In 2019, a fishing mortality proxy (2019) and the breeding stock biomass per recruit (BSR2019) exceeded precautionary biological reference points (F80% and BSR80%), classifying the stock as ‘most vulnerable’. Industrial and artisanal longline fisheries had the highest impacts because they had the highest areal overlap with the modelled EP leatherback distribution. Of the 70 CMM scenarios, 42 resulted in significant improvements in vulnerability status (i.e. to ‘least vulnerable’). The use of large circle hooks, finfish bait, and best handling and release practices each decreased vulnerability; however, the most effective scenarios involved using these 3 measures in concert. The benefits predicted from EASI-Fish for CMM scenarios assume full compliance and attaining the modelled levels of efficacy, our modelling provides stakeholders with evidence-based recommendations to address key threats to EP leatherback turtles to improve their conservation status by reducing fishing impacts.

KEY WORDS: Ecological risk assessment · Longline · Artisanal fisheries · Tuna · Sea turtle · Dermochelys coriacea · Fisheries bycatch

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Cite this article as: Griffiths SP, Wallace BP, Cáceres V, Rodríguez LH and others (2024) Vulnerability of the Critically Endangered leatherback turtle to fisheries bycatch in the eastern Pacific Ocean. II. Assessment of mitigation measures. Endang Species Res 53:295-326.

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