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... 17 Historically, bottom-set gillnet fishers in the region retained certain elasmobranch species if they fished under a permit for both finfish and elasmobranchs. 15,42 However, since 2012 Mexico has prohibited the catch and sale of all elasmobranchs during the summer; 19 thus, elasmobranchs have transitioned from a secondary target catch to discarded bycatch. While some solutions are being developed to decrease elasmobranch bycatch in longline fisheries (e.g., modified leaders, hooks, and bait 43,44 ), this study establishes net illumination as the first known potential elasmobranch BRT for gillnet fisheries. ...
... Bycatch of protected marine megafauna has led to fisheries regulations (e.g., closures, gear switches, and buyouts) that have incurred substantial socioeconomic costs on coastal communities. 19,20,54 In this particular gillnet fishery, high bycatch of loggerhead turtles resulted in a fishery closure that eliminated the seasonal income of thousands of fishers. 19 Given the large volume of organisms and diversity of species captured in this study, coupled with constraints on time and effort, we used biomass to assess the effects of net illumination on catch and bycatch rates. ...
... 19,20,54 In this particular gillnet fishery, high bycatch of loggerhead turtles resulted in a fishery closure that eliminated the seasonal income of thousands of fishers. 19 Given the large volume of organisms and diversity of species captured in this study, coupled with constraints on time and effort, we used biomass to assess the effects of net illumination on catch and bycatch rates. Biomass is a commonly used metric in fisheries management, especially in high-volume capture fisheries where individual animals cannot always be sorted efficiently. ...
Article
Small-scale fisheries are vital for food security, nutrition, and livelihoods in coastal areas throughout the world’s oceans.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 As intricately linked social-ecological systems, small-scale fisheries require management approaches that help ensure both ecological and socioeconomic sustainability.⁷,10, 11, 12, 13, 14 Given their ease of use and lucrative nature, coastal gillnet fisheries are globally ubiquitous.¹⁰,¹⁵ However, these fisheries often result in high discarded capture of non-target organisms (bycatch) that can lead to significant cascading effects throughout trophic chains16, 17, 18 and costly fisheries restrictions that result in important revenue losses in coastal communities with scarce economic alternatives.¹⁹,²⁰ Despite these challenges, few solutions have been developed and broadly adopted to decrease bycatch in coastal gillnet fisheries, particularly in developing nations.⁵,²¹ Here we used controlled experiments along Mexico’s Baja California peninsula to show that illuminating gillnets with green LED lights—an emerging technology originally developed to mitigate sea turtle bycatch—significantly reduced mean rates of total discarded bycatch biomass by 63%, which included significant decreases in elasmobranch (95%), Humboldt squid (81%), and unwanted finfish (48%). Moreover, illuminated nets significantly reduced the mean time required to retrieve and disentangle nets by 57%. In contrast, there were no significant differences in target fish catch or value. These findings advance our understanding of how artificial illumination affects operational efficiency and changes in catch rates in coastal gillnet fisheries, while illustrating the value of assessing broad-scale ecological and socioeconomic effects of species-specific conservation strategies.
... Cumulatively, in absolute terms, such limitations manifest as a less-than-ideal implementations of mitigation measures among SSF. Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge that successful mitigation measures appear to be increasing somewhat proportional to community engagement (i.e. a more bottom-up management approach), which is recognized as an essential component of successful mitigation plans (Cox et al., 2007;Senko et al., 2014Senko et al., , 2017Samhouri et al., 2019). ...
... The reviewed information supports the broad conclusion that extensive community engagement is required in any management or strategic/conservation plans to ensure compliance with mitigation measures (Silva et al., 2013;Teh et al., 2015;Senko et al., 2017;Samhouri et al., 2019). Even so, this does not necessarily imply each small community should have its own mitigation approaches, but rather should amalgamate with parallel communities (with similar gears, problematic bycatches and economic situations) sharing the same resources, culture heritages and social limitations and agree on what could be optimal to mitigate their cumulative impacts. ...
... training workshops with local communities (DaSilva et al., 2010;Paterson and Peterson, 2010;Macfadyen et al., 2013;Bretos et al., 2017;Peckham et al., 2007;Senko et al., 2017;Squires et al. ...
Article
Small-scale fisheries (SSF) are often considered sustainable; but comprise 95% of global fishers and cumulatively evoke substantial ecosystem impacts that include collateral mortalities. Marine mammals and sea turtles are particularly vulnerable to SSF and have been the focus of conservation strategies. However, many strategies have fallen short of objectives. This study aimed to elucidate and help resolve associated issues by: compiling global efforts to mitigate marine-mammal and sea-turtle bycatches/mortalities among SSF; identifying successful outcomes and influencing factors; and then suggesting steps for mitigating remaining problems. Among 150 articles, there was exponential temporal output, with gillnets the most studied gear (67%). Approximately 71% of all publications proposed mitigation measures but of these, efficacy was assessed in fewer than 2/3. While essential for conservation, community engagement was poorly initiated—although relevant studies have increased in the last decade, which may be correlated with studies describing management approaches instead of typical bycatch assessments. Mitigation measures were assessed in a ‘strength-weaknesses-opportunities-and-threats’ analysis. Mitigation measures should benefit multiple species (‘strengths’), avoid high costs/maintenance (‘weaknesses’), be supported by community engagement and governmental aid/enforcement (‘opportunities’), and consider non-compliance (‘threats’). Collateral mortalities can be reduced among SSF, but regional adoption of technology requires impetus that is best achieved via community engagement.
... While much attention has recently tried to address the impact of fishery bycatch on the sympatric group of foraging North Pacific loggerheads in the Gulf of Ulloa (Peckham et al. 2007, UABCS 2014, Senko et al. 2017, less management focus has been given to the impact these same fisheries have on EP green turtles. This is largely due to (1) higher numbers of loggerheads aggregating and therefore being affected by the bycatch in the Gulf of Ulloa and stranding at PSL , Mancini & Koch 2009, Seminoff et al. 2014; and (2) the continuing population growth and recovery of the EP green turtle population . ...
... Management efforts focused on their protection will help to conserve this portion of the population, thus preserving additional behavioral plasticity within the entire EP green turtle population. The ongoing efforts to minimize bycatch of loggerheads in the Gulf of Ulloa (Senko et al. 2017) are likely to reduce the bycatch impact on these EP green turtles as well; however, continued monitoring of bycatch rates at this location, specifically for EP green turtles, is important. Most of the cortical bone did not retain visible LAGs, but one small section (pictured in d) showed ~18 additional possible LAGs, which, if they are true LAGs, could have a significant impact on the age estimation of this individual (see 'Results' and the Supplement for details on the potential complications involved with using skeletochronology to estimate turtle age) ...
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The East Pacific green turtle Chelonia mydas population is gradually recovering, yet much remains unknown about their long-term demographics and habitat use due to their inaccessibility for study. We present the first detailed characterization of age-at-settlement (~3?5 yr), age-at-maturity (~17?30 yr), and long-term resource use patterns for these turtles by combining skeletochronology with stable carbon (?¹³C) and nitrogen (?¹⁵N) isotope analysis of annual bone growth layers. We studied dead green turtles stranding along the Baja California Peninsula at Playa San Lázaro in Mexico, where their deaths are presumed to be a result of regional fisheries bycatch. Our stable isotope results indicate that these turtles utilize resources differently than other regional, lagoon-foraging green turtle aggregations. Based on stable isotope values from multiple years for individual turtles, we propose these green turtles are long-term pelagic foragers in the coastal shelf habitat of the Gulf of Ulloa and consume a more carnivorous diet from the epipelagic zone, likely including fishery discards, similar to a sympatric group of foraging North Pacific loggerhead turtles. Thus, green turtles use the Gulf of Ulloa as more than a transit area between benthic lagoon foraging and/or breeding locations. This unexpected and prolonged use of a pelagic foraging area could benefit the turtles by facilitating increased somatic growth, but may be of conservation concern as this area also experiences high fisheries turtle bycatch rates. Our findings expand the current paradigm of green turtle life history and habitat use by demonstrating an unexpected exploitation of habitat and prey for post-oceanic stage turtles.
... Subsequently, the United States passed a law requiring the use of TEDs in fisheries around the world that export seafood to the United States. The technological system for implementing this law was large, complex, and political because it was necessary for engaging and negotiating with other governments to implement a U.S. law in sovereign waters of foreign nations (Benaka et al., 2012;Senko et al., 2017). The technological system for international use of TEDs is an example of an inherently political MCT system. ...
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The term conservation technology is applied widely and loosely to any technology connected to conservation. This overly broad understanding can lead to confusion around the actual mechanisms of conservation within a technological system, which can result in neglect and underdevelopment of the human dimensions of conservation technology, impacting its effectiveness. This paper offers precise definitions of marine conservation technology and a technological marine conservation system. It summarizes some of the concerns about the use of marine conservation technologies. It discusses in depth how technology and technological systems can have power, politics, and culture. It proposes the social‐ecological‐technological systems framework to incorporate this broader understanding, so that the values and concerns of people, groups, and society are more effectively addressed in the creation and implementation of marine conservation technologies and technological marine conservation systems. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... The new gear catches fewer fish and is expensive. For example, incidental sea turtle capture in fishing gear (as bycatch) has, in some cases, reached catastrophic levels (Senko et al., 2017). Subsistence (traditional or artisanal) fisheries bycatch has also resulted in substantial juvenile mortality (e.g., Koch et al., 2006). ...
Chapter
Sea Turtles include seven extant species of marine reptiles of the Superfamily Chelonioidea and the Families Dermochelyidae and Cheloniidae. From California to Papua New Guinea, sea turtles migrate throughout the world's oceans, avoiding only polar waters. Sea turtles spend most of their lives in marine waters and nest on land. While many natural and human made obstacles ensnare these turtles in marine waters, conservation efforts are most often concentrated at the limited beaches where they nest. Six species of sea turtles are classified by the IUCN as Vulnerable to Critically Endangered, and one species is classified as Data Deficient; all are listed as Threatened or Endangered in United States waters under the Endangered Species Act. This chapter describes the unique characteristics of the seven extant species of sea turtles, their threats, and some conservation measures.
... Sea turtle bycatch has traditionally been managed by reductions in fishing effort or bycatch caps, but these approaches can be costly for coastal communities because they usually close or restrict fishing effort [15]. For example, a recent fisheries closure in Mexico, established to reduce loggerhead turtle bycatch, eliminated the seasonal income of thousands of fishers and their families [16]. By contrast, solutions such as gear modifications may be more successful than closures or bycatch caps at managing bycatch of sea turtles and other marine megafauna, in part because they allow fishers to fish in their desired locations [15]. ...
Chapter
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Coastal fisheries have intrinsic importance to the identity, values, and cultures in many of the communities they occur in. However, despite their importance, incidental capture (i.e., bycatch) of nontarget species in these fisheries is notoriously difficult to assess and manage. In particular, bycatch of sea turtles in coastal fisheries—primarily in gillnets, longlines, and trawls—has been linked to decline in populations worldwide. Sea turtle bycatch is prevalent in coastal fisheries of developing nations, where fishing communities are generally marginalized with high rates of poverty, limited access to education, and few livelihood alternatives. A new global approach to sea turtle bycatch mitigation is needed that can work in diverse local contexts and simultaneously meet social, economic, and ecological needs. This approach can only come from integrating knowledge between local fishers and conservation scientists, practitioners, and managers.
... These events prompted NMFS to formally identify that Mexico lacked an effective regulatory program to end or reduce North Pacific loggerhead turtle bycatch in the gillnet fishery operating in the Gulf of Ulloa, an important loggerhead habitat in the coastal ocean [39], pursuant to the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act. As indicated in this Act, Mexico had 2 years, beginning in January 2013, to develop a regulatory program to reduce or eliminate this bycatch, or risk losing access to US markets for fisheries exports [40]. In April 2015, Mexico provided the USA with its regulatory measures, which included the implementation of a mortality cap of 90 loggerhead turtles per season, establishment of an observer program (including vessel monitoring and video surveillance), and development of a spatially tiered reserve system in part of the area where loggerhead bycatch was known to occur ( Figure 1, example 14). ...
Article
There have been efforts around the globe to track individuals of many marine species and assess their movements and distribution, with the putative goal of supporting their conservation and management. Determining whether, and how, tracking data have been successfully applied to address real-world conservation issues is, however, difficult. Here, we compile a broad range of case studies from diverse marine taxa to show how tracking data have helped inform conservation policy and management, including reductions in fisheries bycatch and vessel strikes, and the design and administration of marine protected areas and important habitats. Using these examples, we highlight pathways through which the past and future investment in collecting animal tracking data might be better used to achieve tangible conservation benefits.
... Throughout their range, North Pacific loggerheads are impacted by incidental capture in fishing gear (i.e., bycatch; Gilman et al., 2007;Finkbeiner et al., 2011), which in some cases has reached catastrophic levels (Senko et al., 2017). Indeed, artisanal fisheries bycatch resulted in substantial juvenile mortality along the BCP throughout the 1990s and 2000s (Koch et al., 2006(Koch et al., , 2013Peckham et al., , 2008, and entrapment in pound nets has been reported as a major source of death near the loggerhead nesting beaches in Japan (Gilman et al., 2010). ...
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Environmental variability affects distributions of marine predators in time and space. With expected changes in the ocean climate, understanding the relationship between species distributions and the environment is essential for developing successful management regulations. Here we provide information on an ephemeral but important habitat for North Pacific loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) at the northeastern edge of their range. North Pacific loggerhead turtles nest on Japanese beaches and juveniles disperse throughout the North Pacific; some remain in the high seas of the central North Pacific whereas others transition to the eastern Pacific and forage near Baja California, Mexico. Loggerheads have also been reported along the United States west coast, with the majority of sightings off southern California. Here we describe their demography and distribution in the area, based on two aerial surveys (2011, 2015), at-sea sightings, and stranding records. Our aerial survey during fall 2015 determined density, abundance, and distribution of loggerheads in the area, when anomalous warming of the North Pacific and El Niño conditions co-occurred. Using line-transect analysis, we estimated ca. 15,000 loggerheads at the sea surface (CV = 21%) and more than 70,000 loggerheads when accounting for those that were submerged and not available for detection. Our survey during fall 2011 resulted in no loggerhead sightings, demonstrating a high variability of loggerhead density in the region. We encourage further research on loggerheads in the area to determine the mechanisms that promote their occurrence. These studies should include regular surveys throughout their foraging areas along the west coast of the North America as well as assessments of prey availability and local oceanographic conditions. © 2018 Eguchi, McClatchie, Wilson, Benson, LeRoux and Seminoff.
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Assessing mortality of long-lived organisms is fundamental for understanding population trends and for implementing conservation strategies, but doing so for marine megafauna is challenging. Here we assessed anthropogenic mortality of endangered North Pacific loggerhead turtles in the coastal waters of Baja California Sur, Mexico (BCS), through the synthesis of 3 sources: (1) intensive surveys of an index shoreline from 2003 to 2007; (2) bimonthly surveys of additional shorelines and towns for stranded and consumed carcasses from 2006 to 2007; and (3) observations of bycatch by 2 small-scale fishing fleets. Using Monte Carlo simulations we estimate that 1500 to 2950 loggerhead turtles died per year at BCS from 2005 to 2006 due to bycatch in the 2 observed fleets. Actual mortality may be considerably higher due to bycatch in other fisheries, directed hunting for black market trade, and natural factors including predation and disease. From 2003 to 2007 we encountered 2719 loggerhead carcasses on shorelines and in and around towns of BCS. Along the 43 km Playa San Lázaro, 0.25 loggerheads km–1 d–1 were stranded during summer fishing months over 5 yr, which is among the highest reported stranding rates worldwide. This stranding rate corroborates similarly high observed bycatch rates for local small-scale longline (29 loggerheads 1000 hooks–1) and gillnet (1.0 loggerhead km–1 of net) fisheries. A significant increase in mean length of 2636 carcasses measured at BCS occurred from 1995 to 2007. Given the endangered status of the North Pacific loggerhead population, conservation action to reduce bycatch and poaching at BCS is urgently needed.
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Coastal entangling net fisheries are globally ubiquitous and have substantial socioeconomic importance, especially in developing nations. Bycatch in coastal nets results in high mortality of vulnerable megafauna including seabirds, marine mammals, and sea turtles, and has led to fisheries closures that incur high social costs. The overlap of intense bottom-set net fisheries with a high-density foraging hotspot of endangered loggerhead turtles at Baja California Sur, Mexico (BCS) produces among the highest recorded megafauna bycatch rates worldwide. From 2007–9 we conducted controlled experiments in partnership with local fishermen at BCS to compare turtle bycatch rates with target catch rates, composition, and market value between conventional (control) and buoyless (buoys removed from float line) nets. In 136 controlled sets of net pairs, buoyless nets reduced mean turtle bycatch rates by 68% while maintaining target catch rates and composition. Our results suggest that buoyless nets offer a promising approach for mitigating sea turtle and potentially other megafauna bycatch while maintaining coastal net fisheries worldwide.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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The Pacific Coast of the Baja California Peninsula (BCP), Mexico, is a hotspot for foraging loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta originating from nesting beaches in Japan. The BCP region is also known for anthropogenic sea turtle mortality that numbers thousands of turtles annually. To put the conservation implications of this mortality into biological context, we conducted aerial surveys to determine the distribution and abundance of loggerhead turtles in the Gulf of Ulloa, along the BCP Pacific Coast. Each year from 2005 to 2007, we surveyed ca. 3700 km of transect lines, including areas up to 140 km offshore. During these surveys, we detected loggerhead turtles at the water’s surface on 755 occasions (total of 785 loggerheads in groups of up to 7 turtles). We applied standard line-transect methods to estimate sea turtle abundance for survey data collected during good to excellent sighting conditions, which included 447 loggerhead sightings during ~6400 km of survey effort. We derived the proportion of time that loggerheads were at the surface and visible to surveyors based on in situ dive data. The mean annual abundance of 43 226 loggerhead turtles (CV = 0.51, 95% CI range = 15 017 to 100 444) represents the first abundance estimate for foraging North Pacific loggerheads based on robust analytical approaches. Our density estimate confirms the importance of the BCP as a major foraging area for loggerhead turtles in the North Pacific. In the context of annual mortality estimates of loggerheads near BCP, these results suggest that up to 11% of the region’s loggerhead population may perish each year due to anthropogenic and/or natural threats. We calculate that up to 50% of the loggerhead turtles residing in the BCP region in any given year will die within 15 yr if current mortality rates continue. This underscores the urgent need to minimize anthropogenic and natural mortality of local loggerheads.
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In this paper, we modified and updated a stage-based population model for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) and used the model to project potential population-level effects of the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in trawl fisheries of the southeastern US. We reduced the seven-stage model of Crouse et al. (1987) to a five-stage model and performed sensitivity analyses on the matrix. The most sensitive matrix parameters were those dealing with survival while remaining in a stage, rather than growth from one stage to the next or reproductive output. Population growth rate was most sensitive to survival in the large juvenile stage, followed by small juvenile survival. Large juveniles are the most common size class among stranded dead turtles found on beaches; 70-80% of strandings are thought to be related to trawl fisheries. Simulations of our loggerhead model based on estimated effects of TED regulations on stage-specific survivorship suggested that southeastern US loggerhead populations should increase, but rather slowly. If TEDs were required during the shrimping season in offshore areas only (as they were from 1990 to 1992), 70 yr or more would be required for the simulated population to increase by an order of magnitude. Recent estimates of TED effects from South Carolina strandings data suggest a similar recovery rate. Good compliance with regulations requiring TEDs year-round in all waters could allow the population to increase nearly twice as fast as that expected under the ''seasonal offshore'' regulations. We also used a Leslie matrix version of the model to illustrate the expected transient response in the numbers of females expected on nesting beaches (due to shifting age-size structures with TED use). Rather than a monotonic increase, we expect an initial increase in the number of nesting females, followed by a leveling off or slight decline (perhaps 10-15 yr from now), followed by another increase. The magnitude of the projected population increase will depend upon the actual increases in stage-specific survivorship due to TED regulations. New, or compensatory, sources of mortality could slow or reverse this projected recovery.
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Despite complete legal protection, improvements in infrastructure, and market conditions that provide easier access to other protein sources, illegal poaching of sea turtles for consumption in Baja California Sur (BCS), Mexico remains a major threat to their recovery. Few studies have focused on understanding the economic and social drivers behind this activity, which is fundamental to determining best practices for discouraging it. From June 2007 to April 2008 we conducted eight in-depth, semi-structured interviews with sea turtle poachers at five coastal communities in BCS to determine the drivers influencing them. The most prevalent reasons for illegal poaching were direct economic benefits, lack of law enforcement and ease of escape from or bribery of authorities, and strong family tradition. Our results suggest that to reduce illegal poaching it will be necessary to better enforce existing environmental laws, reduce social acceptance of sea turtle hunting throughout the region, educate fishers on the ecological importance of sea turtles, and show fishers direct economic benefits from non-consumptive use of sea turtles, such as ecotourism.
Article
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Assessing mortality of long-lived organisms is fundamental for understanding population trends nd for implementing conservation strategies, but doing so for marine megafauna is challenging. Here we assessed anthropogenic mortality of endangered North Pacific loggerhead turtles in the coastal waters of Baja California Sur, Mexico (BCS), through the synthesis of 3 sources: (1) intensive surveys of an index shoreline from 2003 to 2007; (2) bimonthly surveys of additional shorelines and towns for stranded and consumed carcasses from 2006 to 2007; and (3) observations of bycatch by 2 small-scale fishing fleets. Using Monte Carlo simulations we estimate that 1500 to 2950 loggerhead turtles died per year at BCS from 2005 to 2006 due to bycatch in the 2 observed fleets. Actual mortality may be considerably higher due to bycatch in other fisheries, directed hunting for black market trade, and natural factors including predation and disease. From 2003 to 2007 we encountered 2719 loggerhead carcasses on shorelines and in and around towns of BCS. Along the 43 km Playa San Lázaro, 0.25 loggerheads km -1 d -1 were stranded during summer fishing months over 5 yr, which is among the highest reported stranding rates worldwide. This stranding rate corroborates similarly high observed bycatch rates for local small-scale longline (29 loggerheads 1000 hooks -1) and gillnet (1.0 loggerhead km -1 of net) fisheries. A significant increase in mean length of 2636 carcasses measured at BCS occurred from 1995 to 2007. Given the endangered status of the North Pacific loggerhead population, conservation action to reduce bycatch and poaching at BCS is urgently needed.
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Management of many species is currently based on an inadequate under- standing of their population dynamics. Lack of age-specific demographic information, particularly for long-lived iteroparous species, has impeded development of useful models. We use a Lefkovitch stage class matrix model, based on a preliminary life table developed by Frazer (1983a), to point to interim management measures and to identify those data most critical to refining our knowledge about the population dynamics of threatened log- gerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta). Population projections are used to examine the sen- sitivity of Frazer's life table to variations in parameter estimates as well as the likely response of the population to various management alternatives. Current management practices appear to be focused on the least responsive life stage, eggs on nesting-beaches. Alternative protection efforts for juvenile loggerheads, such as using turtle excluder devices (TEDs), may be far more effective.
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We examined sea turtle consumption and illegal trade in Baja California Sur (BCS) using data from (1) bimonthly surveys at beaches, fishing camps and dumpsites and (2) semi-struc- tured interviews with fishermen. From March 2006 to February 2008, we found the carcasses of 1014 sea turtles; the meat of 461 of these turtles (45.5%) had been consumed. The East Pacific green tur- tle Chelonia mydas was the most sought-after species (77% of total consumed turtles). Consumption is still the main cause of mortality for sea turtles and the greatest threat to them in BCS, affecting mostly juvenile-sized specimens. Sea turtle consumption occurred all year round with a lower num- ber recorded from November to February and an increase thereafter. From 151 interviews we iden- tified 3 areas where turtle meat is consumed but not sold, 4 areas with a local black market and 3 areas providing for a regional and/or international black market. Prices vary from 2-5 USD kg -1 (entire turtle sold on the beach) to 4-20 USD kg -1 (meat only). Consumption of sea turtle meat is partly related to cultural factors, as it is consumed more frequently during the Christian fasting period of Lent. While trade and consumption have decreased in recent years, there are still several places that supply sea turtle meat to local, regional, and sometimes even international markets. Authority involvement in sea turtle traffic and the lack of law enforcement need to be addressed to improve sea turtle conservation in the region. The use of both qualitative and quantitative data in the present study has helped to gain a better understanding of sea turtle consumption in BCS.
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Strandings of marine megafauna can provide valuable information on cause of death at sea. However, as stranding probabilities are usually very low and highly variable in space and time, interpreting the results can be challenging. We evaluated the magnitude and distribution of at-sea mortality of marine turtles along the Pacific coast of Baja California Sur, México during 2010-11, using a combination of counting stranded animals and drifter experiments. A total of 594 carcasses were found during the study period, with loggerhead (62%) and green turtles (31%) being the most common species. 87% of the strandings occurred in the southern Gulf of Ulloa, a known hotspot of loggerhead distribution in the Eastern Pacific. While only 1.8% of the deaths could be definitively attributed to bycatch (net marks, hooks), seasonal variation in stranding frequencies closely corresponded to the main fishing seasons. Estimated stranding probabilities from drifter experiments varied among sites and trials (0.05-0.8), implying that only a fraction of dead sea turtles can be observed at beaches. Total mortality estimates for 15-day periods around the floater trials were highest for PSL, a beach in the southern Gulf of Ulloa, ranging between 11 sea turtles in October 2011 to 107 in August 2010. Loggerhead turtles were the most numerous, followed by green and olive ridley turtles. Our study showed that drifter trials combined with beach monitoring can provide estimates for death at sea to measure the impact of small-scale fisheries that are notoriously difficult to monitor for by-catch. We also provided recommendations to improve the precision of the mortality estimates for future studies and highlight the importance of estimating impacts of small-scale fisheries on marine megafauna.
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The reduction of sea turtle mortality in fisheries may contribute to recovering populations. To reduce turtle interactions, regulations for the Hawaii-based longline swordfish fishery required vessels to switch from using a J-shaped hook with squid bait to a wider circle-shaped hook with fish bait. Analyses of observer data showed that, following the introduction of the regulations, significant and large reductions in sea turtle and shark capture rates occurred without compromising target species catches. Capture rates of leatherback and loggerhead turtles significantly declined by 83% and 90%, respectively. The swordfish catch rate significantly increased by 16%. However, combined tuna species and combined mahimahi, opah, and wahoo catch rates significantly declined by 50% and 34%, respectively. The shark catch rate significantly declined by 36%, highlighting the potential for the use of fish instead of squid for bait to contribute to addressing concerns over the sustainability of current levels of shark exploitation. There was also a highly significant reduction in the proportion of turtles that swallowed hooks (versus being hooked in the mouth or body or entangled) and a highly significant increase in the proportion of caught turtles that were released after removal of all terminal tackle, which may increase the likelihood of turtles surviving the interaction. A quarter of turtle captures were in clusters (>1 turtle caught per set and consecutive sets with turtle captures), which is substantially higher than predicted by chance if the events were independent. This suggests that turtles aggregate at foraging grounds and that instituting methods to avoid real-time turtle bycatch hotspots may further reduce turtle interactions. There was no significant correlation between turtle and swordfish catch rates (vessels with high swordfish CPUE do not necessarily have high turtle CPUE), indicating that there may be a fishing practice or gear design causing some vessels to have low turtle catch rates without compromising swordfish catch rates.
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We analyzed satellite track data for 186 loggerhead sea turtles in the North Pacific Ocean using remotely sensed environmental data to characterize pelagic habitat. A large number of candidate habitat variables were merged to the satellite track data and statistically compared to background values over a large spatiotemporal grid which bounded overall occupancy. Five statistically significant variables were identified out of the 16 environmental variables examined. Two of these variables have strong seasonal, interannual, and spatial patterns (sea surface temperature and chlorophyll a concentration), while three others were primarily spatial (earth magnetic force, earth magnetic declination, and earth magnetic inclination). Habitat selectivity for these variables was quantified using preference curve methodology established in the foraging literature. The output from the selectivity curves was used to predict a multivariate loggerhead sea turtle habitat index across the pelagic North Pacific. This predicted habitat was ground-truthed with newly available satellite track data.
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Bycatch can harm marine ecosystems, reduce biodiversity, lead to injury or mortality of protected species, and have severe economic implications for fisheries. On 12 January 2007, President George W. Bush signed the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006 (MSRA). The MSRA required the U.S. Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to establish a Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (BREP) to develop technological devices and other conservation engineering changes designed to minimize bycatch, seabird interactions, bycatch mortality, and post-release mortality in Federally managed fisheries. The MSRA also required the Secretary to identify nations whose vessels are engaged in the bycatch of protected living marine resources (PLMR’s) under specified circumstances and to certify that these nations have 1) adopted regulatory programs for PLMR’s that are comparable to U.S. programs, taking into account different conditions, and 2) established management plans for PLMR’s that assist in the collection of data to support assessments and conservation of these resources. If a nation fails to take sufficient corrective action and does not receive a positive certification, fishing products from that country may be subject to import prohibitions into the United States. The BREP has made significant progress to develop technological devices and other conservation engineering designed to minimize bycatch, including improvements to bycatch reduction devices and turtle excluder devices in Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico trawl fisheries, gillnets in Northeast fisheries, and trawls in Alaska and Pacific Northwest fisheries. In addition, the international provisions of the MSRA have provided an innovative tool through which the United States can address bycatch by foreign nations. However, the inability of the National Marine Fisheries Service to identify nations whose vessels are engaged in the bycatch of PLMR’s to date will require the development of additional approaches to meet this mandate.
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Anecdotally it is often said that fishers are the best inventors of marine conservation technologies. In this paper I describe case studies of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) and dolphin conservation technology, offering empirical evidence that fishers are successful inventors of marine conservation technology. I describe the Local Inventor Effect, in which adoption of a technology is disproportionately high in the geographic area near the inventor’s home. In one case, the adoption of a local invention was 600% higher than that of the next most popular device. Further, I present the Successful Inventor Profile for inventors of marine conservation technologies. This profile consists of three characteristics (1) a successful conservation technology inventor will have extensive experience relevant to the problem and potential solutions, (2) he or she will have extensive experience in fabrication, and (3) he or she will have the ability and tendency to employ mental and/or physical models, to assemble and refine inventions.
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Highly productive hotspots in the ocean often occur where complex physical forcing mechanisms lead to aggregation of primary and secondary producers. Understanding how hotspots persist, however, requires combining knowledge of the spatio-temporal linkages between geomorphology, physical forcing, and biological responses with the physiological requirements and movement of top predators. Here we integrate remotely sensed oceanography, ship surveys, and satellite telemetry to show how local geomorphology interacts with physical forcing to create a region with locally enhanced upwelling and an adjacent upwelling shadow that promotes retentive circulation, enhanced year-round primary production, and prey aggregation. These conditions provide an area within the upwelling shadow where physiologically optimal water temperatures can be found adjacent to a region of enhanced prey availability, resulting in a foraging hotspot for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) off the Baja California peninsula, Mexico. We have identified the set of conditions that lead to a persistent top predator hotspot, which increases our understanding of how highly migratory species exploit productive regions of the ocean. These results will aid in the development of spatially and environmentally explicit management strategies for marine species of conservation concern.
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Using estimates of the primary production required (PPR) to support fisheries catches (a measure of the footprint of fishing), we analyzed the geographical expansion of the global marine fisheries from 1950 to 2005. We used multiple threshold levels of PPR as percentage of local primary production to define 'fisheries exploitation' and applied them to the global dataset of spatially-explicit marine fisheries catches. This approach enabled us to assign exploitation status across a 0.5° latitude/longitude ocean grid system and trace the change in their status over the 56-year time period. This result highlights the global scale expansion in marine fisheries, from the coastal waters off North Atlantic and West Pacific to the waters in the Southern Hemisphere and into the high seas. The southward expansion of fisheries occurred at a rate of almost one degree latitude per year, with the greatest period of expansion occurring in the 1980s and early 1990s. By the mid 1990s, a third of the world's ocean, and two-thirds of continental shelves, were exploited at a level where PPR of fisheries exceed 10% of PP, leaving only unproductive waters of high seas, and relatively inaccessible waters in the Arctic and Antarctic as the last remaining 'frontiers.' The growth in marine fisheries catches for more than half a century was only made possible through exploitation of new fishing grounds. Their rapidly diminishing number indicates a global limit to growth and highlights the urgent need for a transition to sustainable fishing through reduction of PPR.
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Sea turtles have historically been an important food resource for many coastal inhabitants of Mexico. Today, the consumption of sea turtle meat and eggs continues in northwestern Mexico despite well-documented legal protection and market conditions providing easier access to other more reliable protein sources. Although there is growing evidence that consuming sea turtles may be harmful to human health due to biotoxins, environmental contaminants, viruses, parasites, and bacteria, many at-risk individuals, trusted information sources, and risk communicators may be unaware of this information. Therefore, we interviewed 134 residents and 37 physicians in a region with high rates of sea turtle consumption to: (1) examine their knowledge and perceptions concerning these risks, as a function of sex, age, occupation, education and location; (2) document the occurrence of illness resulting from consumption; and (3) identify information needs for effective risk communication. We found that 32% of physicians reported having treated patients who were sickened from sea turtle consumption. Although physicians believed sea turtles were an unhealthy food source, they were largely unaware of specific health hazards found in regional sea turtles, regardless of location. By contrast, residents believed that sea turtles were a healthy food source, regardless of sex, age, occupation, and education, and they were largely unaware of specific health hazards found in regional sea turtles, regardless of age, occupation, and education. Although most residents indicated that they would cease consumption if their physician told them it was unhealthy, women were significantly more likely to do so than men. These results suggest that residents may lack the necessary knowledge to make informed dietary decisions and physicians do not have enough accurate information to effectively communicate risks with their patients.
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After a long history of overexploitation, increasing efforts to restore marine ecosystems and rebuild fisheries are under way. Here, we analyze current trends from a fisheries and conservation perspective. In 5 of 10 well-studied ecosystems, the average exploitation rate has recently declined and is now at or below the rate predicted to achieve maximum sustainable yield for seven systems. Yet 63% of assessed fish stocks worldwide still require rebuilding, and even lower exploitation rates are needed to reverse the collapse of vulnerable species. Combined fisheries and conservation objectives can be achieved by merging diverse management actions, including catch restrictions, gear modification, and closed areas, depending on local context. Impacts of international fleets and the lack of alternatives to fishing complicate prospects for rebuilding fisheries in many poorer regions, highlighting the need for a global perspective on rebuilding marine resources.
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Juvenile loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) have recently been documented in the vicinity of Baja California and thousands of these animals have been captured in oceanic fisheries of the North Pacific. The presence of loggerhead turtles in the central and eastern North Pacific is a prominent enigma in marine turtle distribution because the nearest documented nesting concentrations for this species are in Australia and Japan, over 10,000 km from Baja California. To determine the origin of the Baja California feeding aggregate and North Pacific fishery mortalities, samples from nesting areas and pelagic feeding aggregates were compared with genetic markers derived from mtDNA control region sequences. Overall, 57 of 60 pelagic samples (95%) match haplotypes seen only in Japanese nesting areas, implicating Japan as the primary source of turtles in the North Pacific Current and around Baja California. Australian nesting colonies may contribute the remaining 5% of these pelagic feeding aggregates. Juvenile loggerhead turtles apparently traverse the entire Pacific Ocean, approximately one-third of the planet, in the course of developmental migrations, but mortality in high-seas fisheries raises concern over the future of this migratory population.
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Background: Although bycatch of industrial-scale fisheries can cause declines in migratory megafauna including seabirds, marine mammals, and sea turtles, the impacts of small-scale fisheries have been largely overlooked. Small-scale fisheries occur in coastal waters worldwide, employing over 99% of the world's 51 million fishers. New telemetry data reveal that migratory megafauna frequent coastal habitats well within the range of small-scale fisheries, potentially producing high bycatch. These fisheries occur primarily in developing nations, and their documentation and management are limited or non-existent, precluding evaluation of their impacts on non-target megafauna. Principal findings/methodology: 30 North Pacific loggerhead turtles that we satellite-tracked from 1996-2005 ranged oceanwide, but juveniles spent 70% of their time at a high use area coincident with small-scale fisheries in Baja California Sur, Mexico (BCS). We assessed loggerhead bycatch mortality in this area by partnering with local fishers to 1) observe two small-scale fleets that operated closest to the high use area and 2) through shoreline surveys for discarded carcasses. Minimum annual bycatch mortality in just these two fleets at the high use area exceeded 1000 loggerheads year(-1), rivaling that of oceanwide industrial-scale fisheries, and threatening the persistence of this critically endangered population. As a result of fisher participation in this study and a bycatch awareness campaign, a consortium of local fishers and other citizens are working to eliminate their bycatch and to establish a national loggerhead refuge. Conclusions/significance: Because of the overlap of ubiquitous small-scale fisheries with newly documented high-use areas in coastal waters worldwide, our case study suggests that small-scale fisheries may be among the greatest current threats to non-target megafauna. Future research is urgently needed to quantify small-scale fisheries bycatch worldwide. Localizing coastal high use areas and mitigating bycatch in partnership with small-scale fishers may provide a crucial solution toward ensuring the persistence of vulnerable megafauna.
Article
Small-scale fisheries provide over half the world’s wild-caught seafood, employ over 99% of its fishers, and are frequently promoted as a sustainable alternative to large-scale industrial fisheries. However, few studies have quantitatively examined how possible habitat impacts and non-target species composition vary across gears used in small-scale fisheries, as data are sparse and conservation efforts are largely focused on more iconic species. Here, we quantify and compare the ecosystem impacts of four fishing gears (lobster traps, fish traps, set gillnets, drift gillnets) used in small-scale fisheries of Baja California, Mexico, using at-sea observations and field experiments. Set gillnets had the highest overall impact on both non-target species and habitat, with discard rates higher than most industrial fisheries (34.3% by weight), and an estimated 19.2% of Eisenia arborea kelp and 16.8% of gorgonian corals damaged or removed within 1m of the net path. Fish traps had the lowest discard rates (0.11%) while lobster traps and drift gillnets had intermediate discard rates (15.1% and 18.5% respectively). In contrast with gillnets, traps caused minimal immediate damage to gorgonian corals and rarely interacted with kelp. Results indicate that ecological impacts depend more on fishing gear type and habitat characteristics than the size of fishing vessels, calling into question broad generalizations that small-scale fisheries are inherently more sustainable than industrial fisheries. Our findings highlight the ecological impacts of artisanal gillnet fisheries as priorities for research, management, and conservation efforts in Baja California and other coastal areas.
Article
Bycatch reduction technology (BRT) modifies fishing gear to increase selectivity and avoid capture of non-target species, or to facilitate their non-lethal release. As a solution to fisheries-related mortality of non-target species, BRT is an attractive option; effectively implemented, BRT presents a technical 'fix' that can reduce pressure for politically contentious and economically detrimental interventions, such as fisheries closures. While a number of factors might contribute to effective implementation, our review of BRT literature finds that research has focused on technical design and experimental performance of individual technologies. In contrast, and with a few notable exceptions, research on the human and institutional context of BRT, and more specifically on how fishers respond to BRT, is limited. This is not to say that fisher attitudes are ignored or overlooked, but that incentives for fisher uptake of BRT are usually assumed rather than assessed or demonstrated. Three assumptions about fisher incentives dominate: (1) economic incentives will generate acceptance of BRT; (2) enforcement will generate compliance with BRT; and (3) 'participation' by fishers will increase acceptance and compliance, and overall support for BRT. In this paper, we explore evidence for and against these assumptions and situate our analysis in the wider social science literature on fisheries. Our goal is to highlight the need and suggest focal areas for further research.
Article
Meta-analyses of stock assessments can provide novel insight into marine population dynamics and the status of fished species, but the world’s main stock assessment database (the Myers Stock-Recruitment Database) is now outdated. To facilitate new analyses, we developed a new database, the RAM Legacy Stock Assessment Database, for commercially exploited marine fishes and invertebrates. Time series of total biomass, spawner biomass, recruits, fishing mortality and catch/landings form the core of the database. Assessments were assembled from 21 national and international management agencies for a total of 331 stocks (295 fish stocks representing 46 families and 36 invertebrate stocks representing 12 families), including nine of the world’s 10 largest fisheries. Stock assessments were available from 27 large marine ecosystems, the Caspian Sea and four High Seas regions, and include the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. Most assessments came from the USA, Europe, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Assessed marine stocks represent a small proportion of harvested fish taxa (16%), and an even smaller proportion of marine fish biodiversity (1%), but provide high-quality data for intensively studied stocks. The database provides new insight into the status of exploited populations: 58% of stocks with reference points (n = 214) were estimated to be below the biomass resulting in maximum sustainable yield (BMSY) and 30% had exploitation levels above the exploitation rate resulting in maximum sustainable yield (UMSY). We anticipate that the database will facilitate new research in population dynamics and fishery management, and we encourage further data contributions from stock assessment scientists.
Article
Hunting by humans played a major role in extirpating terrestrial megafauna on several continents and megafaunal loss continues today in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Recent declines of large marine vertebrates that are of little or no commercial value, such as sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals, have focused attention on the ecological impacts of incidental take, or bycatch, in global fisheries. In spite of the recognition of the problem of bycatch, few comprehensive assessments of its effects have been conducted. Many vulnerable species live in pelagic habitats, making surveys logistically complex and expensive. Bycatch data are sparse and our understanding of the demography of the affected populations is often rudimentary. These factors, combined with the large spatial scales that pelagic vertebrates and fishing fleets cover, make accurate and timely bycatch assessments difficult. Here, we review the current research that addresses these challenging questions in the face of uncertainty, analytical limitations and mounting conservation crises.
Article
According to a recent World Bank report, the intensification of global fishing effort and the ensuing depletion of marine fish stocks causes economic losses of 50 billion US dollars annually. Data deficiencies, however, currently hamper analysis of global fishing effort. We analyzed data from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the EUROPA fishing fleet registry, and peer-reviewed and other publications, to determine the global trends in fishing effort from 1950 to 2006. Our results show that global fishing effort, expressed as total engine power and the number of fishing days in a year (kilowatt days), was roughly constant from 1950 to 1970, and then steadily increased up to the present. Europe dominated global fishing effort, followed by Asia. Projecting current trends suggests that Asia will soon surpass Europe. Trawlers contribute a major fraction of global fishing effort, as do vessels greater than 100 gross registered tons. Current estimates of global fishing effort, the number of vessels, and total vessel tonnage are, however, underestimates given the data gaps that we have identified. Our results are useful in the following ways: (1) they may encourage researchers in academia and government to improve global fishing effort databases; (2) they allow deeper global analyses of the impact of fishing on marine ecosystems; (3) they induce caution in accepting current underestimates of economic losses of global fisheries; and (4) they reinforce calls for a reduction in global fishing effort.
Article
Bahia Magdalena on the Pacific coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico, is an important feeding and nursery ground for black turtles Chelonia mydas, loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta, olive ridley turtles Lepidochelys olivacea, and hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata. Despite international and national protection, sea turtles continue to be caught incidentally and hunted for consumption in large numbers. This study examines the mortality of sea turtles in Bahia Magdalena, focusing on (1) species distribution and number of carcasses found, (2) causes of death, (3) size frequency distribution and % juveniles in the catch, and (4) changes in average size over the past years. A total of 1945 turtle carcasses were found from April 2000 to July 2003 along beaches and in towns of the region with loggerhead (44.1%) and black turtles (36.9%) being the dominant species. Slaughter for human consumption was the primary cause of death of carcasses found in towns (95–100%), while carcasses on beaches mostly died of unknown causes (76–100%). Circumstantial evidence suggests however, that incidental bycatch was the main mortality cause on beaches. Black turtles suffered the highest consumption mortality overall (91%), followed by olive ridley (84%), hawksbill (83%) and loggerhead turtles (63%). Over 90% of all turtles found were juveniles or subadults. Carapace length of black turtles declined consistently over the sampling period, while that of loggerhead turtles increased. Our results strongly suggest that turtles are being taken at high and unsustainable rates; this may partially explain why the populations have not recovered despite widespread protection on nesting beaches.
Article
The burgeoning field of studies in expertise and experience (SEE) is a useful theoretical approach to complex problems. In light of SEE, examination of the controversial and well known case study of dolphin bycatch in the US tuna fishery, reveals that effective problem- solving was hindered by institutional tensions in respect of decision-making authority and difficulties with the integration of different expertises. Comparing the profiles of four individuals, who played distinct roles in the problem-solving process, I show that (1) to address a complex problem, a suite of contributory expertises—rarely found in one individual—may be required; (2) formal credentials are not a reliable indicator of who possesses these necessary expertises; (3) interactional expertise and interactive ability are useful tools in combining the contributory expertises of others to yield a desirable collective outcome; and (4) the concepts of contributory expertise and no expertise are useful tools for understanding the actual contribution of various parties to the problem-solving process.
Article
There are differences in perception of the status of fisheries around the world that may partly stem from how data on trends in catches over time have been used. On the basis of catch trends, it has been suggested that about 70% of all stocks are overexploited due to unsustainable harvesting and 30% of all stocks have collapsed to <10% of unfished levels. Catch trends also suggest that over time an increasing number of stocks will be overexploited and collapsed. We evaluated how use of catch data affects assessment of fisheries stock status. We analyzed simulated random catch data with no trend. We examined well-studied stocks classified as collapsed on the basis of catch data to determine whether these stocks actually were collapsed. We also used stock assessments to compare stock status derived from catch data with status derived from biomass data. Status of stocks derived from catch trends was almost identical to what one would expect if catches were randomly generated with no trend. Most classifications of collapse assigned on the basis of catch data were due to taxonomic reclassification, regulatory changes in fisheries, and market changes. In our comparison of biomass data with catch trends, catch trends overestimated the percentage of overexploited and collapsed stocks. Although our biomass data were primarily from industrial fisheries in developed countries, the status of these stocks estimated from catch data was similar to the status of stocks in the rest of the world estimated from catch data. We conclude that at present 28-33% of all stocks are overexploited and 7-13% of all stocks are collapsed. Additionally, the proportion of fished stocks that are overexploited or collapsed has been fairly stable in recent years.
Article
Despite strong scientific evidence and representations made by international scientific organizations, a considerable number of countries have imposed import bans on pork in response to the H1N1 pandemic. The imposition of these barriers is contrary to WTO rules. The motivation for the imposition of these barriers does not appear to have arisen from producers’ requests or consumer lobbying – political precaution provides the motivation. There appears to be little control over political precaution in the rules of international trade. Hence, the balance between the strong rules of trade desired by firms wishing to engage in international commerce and the need, at times, for politicians to respond to requests for protection may be changing in favour of more protection. Keywords: H1N1, import bans, pork, precaution, protection, swine
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