In one year alone, the Hawai’i longline fishery set 45.4 million baited hooks to target swordfish and tuna, but also captured, killed and/or injured at least 11 species of whales and dolphins, several species of protected seabirds, and four species of threatened and endangered sea turtles.
The United States government categorizes the Hawaii Longline fishery as a “Category One” fishery, which it defines as having “frequent incidental mortality or serious injury of marine mammals.” Victims of this fishery include humpback, sperm and false killer whales, as well as bottlenose, spinner and common dolphins.
The Hawaii longline fleet catches millions of non-target sharks and other fish. In 2012, the Hawaii longline fleet caught 64,481 sharks, but kept only 2 percent of them – the remaining bycatch was thrown back injured or dead.
What We’re Doing
In 2004, Turtle Island Restoration Network closed down 250,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean to the Hawai’i longline swordfish fishery. We compelled first federal “hard caps” for incidental turtle capture. As a result, the Hawaii longline fishery must close for season after cap is reached. We also closed California longline fishery to prevent leatherback mortality.
Today, we are closely monitoring the fishery and litigating when necessary to ensure protected species such as sea turtles, whales and dolphins are not also injured in the pursuit of swordfish and tuna.
We are also calling on consumers to help protect ocean wildlife by not buying unsustainably-caught swordfish personally and also by taking individual action to pressure businesses not to sell unsustainably-caught swordfish.