Although commercial hook and line fisheries pose a well-documented and significant threat to worldwide sea turtle populations, recreational hook and line fisheries remain understudied. This article describes information from sea turtle bycatch reported from interactions in the recreational hook and line fishery, as well as survey results from recreational anglers in Virginia from 2014 through 2018. Reports of interactions increased annually during the study with Kemp's ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) reported most frequently (n = 162), followed by 45 loggerheads (Caretta caretta), 6 green turtles (Chelonia mydas), and 39 unidentified sea turtles. Commonly encountered bait types were similar between surveyed anglers and bait used during turtle interactions, with significantly more squid bait noted during turtle interactions (51%) than used by surveyed anglers (29%) (χ2 = 41.32, p < 0.0001). Additionally, bloodworms and artificial bait were encountered comparatively less frequently during turtle interactions. Overall, interactions with the hook and line recreational fishery in Virginia appear opportunistic and involve otherwise healthy animals, presenting limited means for mitigating sea turtle bycatch. In the absence of regulatory oversight of bycaught sea turtles in the recreational fishery, mitigating injury from these interactions through targeted outreach provides a short-term solution to reducing the severity of these inevitable interactions.
Chelonian Conservation and Biology
Vol. 21 • No. 1
Vol. 21 • No. 1
endangered species management