Policy Recommendations for the Reduction of Sea Turtle Bycatch in North Carolina’s Inshore Gill Net Fisheries
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North Carolina’s 2.5 million acres of coastal waters provide habitat for five species of sea turtles. The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) is charged with managing state fisheries and is responsible for ensuring that sea turtle bycatch is both limited and in compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In 2005, NCDMF applied for and obtained an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) under section 10 of the ESA. The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, represented by the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, filed suit against NCDMF and the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission on February 23, 2010 for violations of that ITP and of section 9 of the ESA. In light of that lawsuit, this project examines potential methods for reducing sea turtle bycatch in North Carolina’s gill net fisheries. The goal of this master’s project was to find potential areas of agreement between recreational and commercial interests pertaining to sea turtle bycatch in the Pamlico Sound area. This goal included the explicit aim to create management recommendations for reductions in sea turtle / gill net bycatch based upon input from fishers. Commercial and recreational fishers were interviewed using an informal, semi-structured interview process. Participants were chosen using a referral system. The results of the interviews were analyzed using the NVivo software program. Commonalities between and within groups were coded and used to create management recommendations. The data suggest that newly imposed regulations will need to be strictly monitored in order to help ensure an effective outcome, given a long history of distrust between commercial and recreational fishers. Specific policy recommendations include gear modifications, increased gill net attendance requirements, increased fisher education on sea turtle entanglement in gill nets, increased penalties for lack of self reporting sea turtle interactions, and increased spatial and temporal restrictions on gill net usage.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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