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PLoS One. 2014 Apr 16;9(4):e94667. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094667. eCollection 2014.

Artisanal Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, fishery of Caribbean Nicaragua: I. Catch rates and trends, 1991-2011.

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1
Global Conservation Program, Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, New York, United States of America.

Abstract

This is the first assessment of catch rates for the legal, artisanal green turtle, Chelonia mydas, fishery in Caribbean Nicaragua. Data were collected by community members, monitoring up to 14 landing sites from 1991 to 2011. We examined take levels, and temporal and spatial variability in catch rates for the overall fishery, by region, and community using General Additive Mixed Models (GAMMs). More than 171,556 green turtles were killed during the period, with a mean estimated minimum 8,169±2,182 annually. There was a statistically significant decline in catch rates overall. Catch rates peaked in 1997 and 2002, followed by a downward trend, particularly from mid-2008 to the end of the study period. Similar downward trends were evident in both study regions. Community specific catch rate trends also indicated declines with decreases ranging from 21% to 90%. Decrease in catch rates in Nicaragua is cause for concern even though the principal source rookery at Tortuguero, Costa Rica, shows an increase in nesting activity. Explanations for the apparent discrepancy between the increasing trend at Tortuguero and decreasing catch rate trends in Nicaragua include: i) an increase in reproductive output, ii) insufficient time has passed to observe the impact of the fishery on the rookery due to a time lag, iii) changes in other segments of the population have not been detected since only nesting activity is monitored, iv) the expansive northern Nicaragua foraging ground may provide a refuge for a sufficient portion of the Tortuguero rookery, and/or v) a larger than expected contribution of non-Tortuguero rookeries occurring in Nicaragua turtle fishing areas. Our results highlight the need for close monitoring of rookeries and in-water aggregations in the Caribbean. Where consumptive use still occurs, nations sharing this resource should implement scientifically based limits on exploitation to ensure sustainability and mitigate impacts to regional population diversity.

PMID:
24740258
PMCID:
PMC3989241
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0094667
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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