Sri Lanka News

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Turtle friendly fishing hooks to be introduced in Sri Lanka

By Walter Jayawardhana

TURTLE FRIENDLY FISHING HOOKS ARE BEING INTRODUCED IN SRI LANKA TO STOP ACCIDENTAL KILLINGS OF SEA TURTLES

London’s Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has joined hands with a British retail chain and fishermen in Sri Lanka in introducing a turtle friendly fishing hook that would save the island nation’s endangered species of sea turtles.

It is estimated that thousands of Sri Lanka’s endangered species of sea turtles are accidentally snagged by longline fishing hooks every year.

More than 30,000 circular turtle friendly hooks are being implemented by a fleet of seven longline fishing vessels, said the MCS recently.

The new circular fishing hooks will replace the traditional “J” shaped ones. The traditional hooks could snag turtles or be swallowed by them leading to suffocation or internal bleeding caused by injuries.

If the Sri Lankan experiment is successful, the retail chain will work with the supplier, Young’s Sea Food to distribute the turtle friendly hooks with the rest of the fishermen who use J shaped hooks.

Recent studies showed accidental catch or bycatch destroy nearly quarter of a million loggerheads and leatherbacks, two varieties found in Sri Lankan waters, all over the world.

The circular fishing hook was a discovery by the US scientists that provided with results in the conservation of the sea turtles, said the species policy officer Peter Richardson of the MCS. “The development of the circular hooks by US scientists and fishermen has been the turtle conservation success story of the decade.

“Surveys by our conservation partners in Sri Lanka indicate that fishery bycatch is a significant threat to the turtle populations there.” he said.

It is expected that the new kind of fishing hooks will reduce the deaths of 90% turtles caught in the longline fisheries.

But the 30,000 hooks distributed will be only fraction of the total number of hooks necessary in Sri Lanka. Richardson said, “While the 30,000 hooks distributed in Sri Lanka represents only a fraction of the hooks needed to turn the bycatch situation around there, MCS is extremely encouraged that two of the major players in the industry are taking such an exemplary step in the right direction to make these fisheries more environmentally sustainable.

“With widespread and correct application in Sri Lanka, the introduction of these hooks could result in a 90% reduction in the number of turtles accidentally caught by Sri Lanka’s longline fisheries.”

Sri Lanka is one of the leading countries in the world that has paid attention to the conservation of sea turtles.

A MCS statement said, “By converting just two fishing vessels to turtle-friendly gear and techniques, 200 juvenile and adult marine turtles could be saved each year “It is said that if we can protect and manage 3 km of beach in Rekawa and Kosgoda we may conserving 90% of the turtle population visiting Sri Lanka. We need to provide adequate protection and develop appropriate strategies to protect and manage 2.5 km in Rekawa and 0.5 km of the Kosgoda beach.”

A recent study of Sri Lankan seat turtles said, “The beaches of Sri Lanka are the nesting grounds for five species of marine turtles. They are the Green turtle, the Leatherback, the Hawksbill the Loggerhead and the Olive Ridley. All 5 species have been recorded to nest along specific areas of Sri Lanka’s coast . Studies have indicated that beaches can be categorized in accordance with visitation by different species of turtles. For example Leatherbacks nest at Walawe Modera and Godawaya. Hawksbill nest at Bentota while Green Turtle nest at Rekawa and Kosgoda. Loggerheads nest at Welipatanwala. But Olive Ridley nest everywhere.”

In Sri Lanka there are 18 hatcheries found along the southern coastal line, of them 09 hatcheries are found in the district of Galle, and one is found in the district of Hambantota (i.e. Darwin’s Cabana).

According to some statistics during 1996 to 1999 98,198 sea turtles were hatched and released to the sea from these hatcheries.

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March 3, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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