Hawai`i Longline Vessels Capture and Kill Sea Turtles
Critically endangered Pacific leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles continue to die on the longline hooks of the deadly Hawaii swordfish fishery. Despite closures of the fishery due to excess turtle captures and legal mandates to decrease the number of sea turtles injured in the high bycatch fishery, National Marine Fisheries Service persists in putting seafood profits before protections for sea turtles that are required by the U.S. Endangered Species Act. In response, we continue to win legal battles to protect sea turtles from increased capture of sea turtles in the deadly Hawaii swordfishery.
Swordfish longline vessels trail up to 60 miles of fishing line suspended in the water with floats, with as many as a thousand baited hooks deployed at regular intervals. Sea turtles become hooked while trying to take bait or entangled while swimming through the nearly invisible lines. These encounters can drown the turtle or leave it with serious wounds. Sea birds such as albatross dive for the bait and become hooked, and marine mammals, including endangered humpback whales, become hooked when they swim through the floating lines.