Responsible Fishing Practices

There’s a good chance that you’ve already heard about one of the recent arrivals at LMC’s sea turtle hospital, Meghan, an olive ridley sea turtle. The turtle is receiving tremendous attention as it’s not typically found in the waters off Florida. It’s primarily found in the warm, sub-tropical and tropical waters of the South Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. In the South Atlantic, they are found along the Atlantic coasts of West Africa and South America.  Additionally, this species of sea turtle has never been reported to strand this far north, and is only the fourth olive ridley stranding ever in the state of Florida.

The turtle was found by beach goers on Lantana Beach, entangled in a fishing net, struggling in the surf. Each year about one in four sea turtle patients treated in LMC’s hospital have injuries due to fisheries interactions.

What can the average recreational fisherman do to help?

  • Eat sustainably caught seafood. See Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Guide.
  • Do not litter! Properly dispose of all fishing debris and waste responsibly.
  • Reduce wildlife injuries by tending to your fishing lines. Be especially aware while on piers, jetties and other bird feeding areas.
  • Only catch sufficient fish for your immediate needs. Release all others using best practice “catch and release” techniques.
  • Use environmentally responsible tackle, such as lead alternative sinkers, biodegradable line, and non-stainless hooks, when possible.
  • Immediate release of non-targeted species. All native fish have a role in the local ecosystem.
  • Participate and promote beach clean-up events to help prevent debris from ending up in the ocean.
  • Participate and promote underwater clean-up events.

What if you accidentally hook a sea turtle?

  1. Safely remove the animal from the water.
  2. If in the state of Florida, Contact Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) (1-888-404-FWCC) or Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) (561-603-0211)
  3. Wait for further instructions from FWC or LMC.
  4. If outside the state of Florida, contact your local sea turtle stranding network or response team.
  5. Do not attempt to remove ingested fishing hooks or entangled fishing line on your own. Often times this can cause additional injury to the turtle.
  6. Place turtle in a bin and/or cover with a damp towel. Do not place turtle in a bin full of water while waiting for help to arrive.
  7. Control heavy bleeding by applying direct pressure.

What if you observe an injured sea turtle at sea?

  1. If in the state of Florida, contact FWC (1-888-404-FWCC) directly.
  2. Do not attempt to rescue the turtle in deep water as this can potentially result in further injury to the animal and rescuer.
  3. If outside the state of Florida, contact your local sea turtle stranding network or response team.

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