23 Jun 2008

Cap on swordfishing in Hawaii to be removed

3:33 pm on 23 June 2008

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council has voted to remove the effort cap on the swordfish fishery in Hawaii.

Research has developed a new type of circle, hook and bait combination for swordfish fishers that greatly reduces the risk to loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles.

Senior scientist Paul Dalzell says the council which regulates fishing in U.S. Pacific waters, imposed a limit four years ago, due to the fishery taking out hundreds of sea turtles every year.

"We've actually zeroed it out so far this year. And so we feel confident that the fishery will comeback to its orginal level where its catching about 3000 metric tonnes of swordfish a year."

He says swordfishing will need to close down again if a level of 17 loggerhead sea turtle interactions is reached within a year.

The council also voted to impose a 30 kilometre radius ban on long line fishing around the Northern Mariana islands to protect local small scale fisheries.