Sea Turtle Research at the NEFSC
The goal of gear research at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole is to develop solutions for reducing protected species bycatch through a cooperative effort with industry, non-government organizations, NOAA managers, and others. We believe in a systematic approach to gear work outlined in the NEFSC Gear Research Flowchart. This flowchart outlines a research approach that has proven successful in effectively devising gear modifications to mitigate the bycatch of protected species as well as those of finfish species. Read about our work with satellite tags and ROVs, see an interactive map of 2012 and 2013 satellite-tagged turtles, or link to maps of our satellite-tagged turtles on seaturtle.org.
The NEFSC analyzes sea turtle bycatch in commercial fisheries operating from Maine to North Carolina to help inform conservation management. Analysts at NEFSC use data collected by observers on commercial fishing vessels to understand factors correlated with high and low bycatch rates and to estimate total bycatch in the fishery (Murray 2009). Results from bycatch analyses are used to evaluate the effect of fishing operations on sea turtle populations and to compare the benefits of different management alternatives.
The NEFSC works together with the SEFSC to assess sea turtles in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. This includes collecting, analyzing, and reporting information related to the status of turtle species and the impacts of human activities. NEFSC PSB aerial surveys collect sea turtle data and can provide an index of sea turtle abundance. The PSB turtle program is also developing science-based decision tools to use in evaluating management options.