Volume (Issue #):
An observer program assessed the impact of the Costa Rican longline fishery on bycatch species from 1999 to 2010. Observers recorded species, sex, reproductive state, and dimensions of all animals captured. They also recorded information about individual longlines, including location, set and haul back times, hook type, hook number, bait used, target species, and total number of hooks. The longline fishery caught a large number of silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis), olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea), and pelagic stingrays (Pteroplatytrygon violacea). The authors estimate that 699,600 olive ridleys were caught between 1999 and 2010, including 92,300 adult females. The captures correspond with a decline in nesting populations nearby and statistically significant size decreases in mature turtles. They also observed a decline in the average size of silky sharks. Geospatial analysis of the data indicated that there were temporal shifts in mahi-mahi abundance, but fishing efforts did not shift with abundance. The authors suggest marine protected areas and/or time area closure to reduce the bycatch of sea turtles and sharks.