Wayuú capture of green turtles, Chelonia mydas, in the Gulf of Venezuela: a major Caribbean artisanal turtle fishery

Barrios-Garrido, Héctor A., Montiel-Villalobos, María G., Palmar, Jordano, and Rodríguez-Clark, Kathryn M. (2020) Wayuú capture of green turtles, Chelonia mydas, in the Gulf of Venezuela: a major Caribbean artisanal turtle fishery. Ocean and Coastal Management, 188. 105123.

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Abstract

Fisheries, either directed or via bycatch, are a major cause of decline in global populations of marine turtles. Although artisanal fisheries are often seen as lower-impact than industrial fisheries, they may be among the most serious threats to green turtles. Between 2005 and 2008, to better understand the impacts of such fisheries in the High Extraction Zone of the Gulf of Venezuela (HEZ-GV), an important feeding habitat for green turtles, we interviewed fishers, observed fishing activities directly, and counted, measured, and marked discarded turtle carapaces at fishing ports and traditional markets. From these, we estimated that at least 3,402 ± 247 turtles/year were extracted with artisanal nets, suggesting that the HEZ-GV artisanal turtle fishery may have been among the most active in the Caribbean at the time, with a CPUE of 0.04 turtles/km-net*hour ±0.014. However, capture was not selective, confirming prior anecdotal information suggesting that this fishery supplies mainly subsistence and not commercial use. Harvested turtles consisted mainly of juveniles (64%, CCLmin = 55.7 cm ± SE 0.9), and subadults (35%, CCLmin = 78.9 cm ± 0.6 cm), with very few adults (1%, CCLmin = 98 cm ± 0.6 cm). Our findings highlight the need for continued monitoring of the artisanal turtle fishery in the HEZ-GV, particularly given the possibility of increased reliance on aquatic bushmeat sources in Venezuela's present socio-economic crisis. More broadly, they also indicate that scientifically based catch guidelines for marine turtles may be just as important in artisanal as in commercial fisheries, to ensure sustainability and mitigate harvest impacts.

Item ID: 64190
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-524X
Keywords: IUU fisheries, Aquatic bushmeat, Commercial use, Wildlife trade, Marine megafauna
Copyright Information: © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Funders: Fondo Nacional para la Ciencia y Tecnología (FONACYT), Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC), Iniciativa de Especies Amenazadas-Provita (2005-6, 2006-7), The Whitley-Laing Foundation, Idea Wild, American Museum of Natural History's Lerner Gray Fund for Marine Research
Projects and Grants: (FONACYT) FONACIT proyecto No.2006000247
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2020 02:54
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 34%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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