The Turks and Caicos Islands, known throughout the world for their pristine beaches and diverse marine wildlife, is being threatened by a project which seeks to determine the viability of a commercial pelagic fishery in their waters. This exercise will open Turks and Caicos waters to long-line commercial fishing vessels. This indiscriminate method causes depleted fish stocks and excessive incidental catch, including sea turtles and billfish . Pelagic long-line commercial fishing is incompatible with the Turks and Caicos Islands’ unique marine waters that provide healthy ecosystems for marine species and our “Beautiful by Nature” mantra. Good conservation and responsible use of our marine resources are the true “sustainable” methods; ours is more than a label, it is a way of life.
This petition calls on the Turks and Caicos Islands Government to ban pelagic long-line commercial fishing in the Turks and Caicos Islands’ exclusive economic zone.
By signing my name, I call for the Turks and Caicos Government to ban pelagic long-line commercial fishing in Turks and Caicos waters.
(This petition is fully endorsed by The Billfish Foundation, the leading organization in billfish research and conservation. Visit www.billfish.org for more information.)
The Facts about the Study
- Day Boat Seafood LLC from FL, US has partnered with Caicos Pride, South Caicos, TCI to assess the viability of a pelagic commercial fishery in TCI.
- This study, which has been approved to move forward, involves 2 commercial long-line vessels fishing in TCI waters for a period of up to 2 years.
- The vessels will fish within the TCI EEZ which extends from 10 miles to up to 200 miles offshore.
- A DEMA representative will be on board the vessel recording catch and bycatch numbers.
- Target species include swordfish, mahi-mahi, wahoo, yellowfin tuna and big-eye tuna.
- Gear to be used:
- 25 miles of line
- 500 baited 18.0 circle hooks (unconfirmed at this time whether these will be offset or non-offset)
- Set at depths of up to 250 feet
- Squid and mackerel imported from Venezuela will be used as bait
- These lines will be set to soak for 8 hours or more.
- The catch acquired during the study will be processed by Caicos Pride in South Caicos and sold to Day Boat LLC in FL for resale.
[All information regarding the proposed long-line commercial pelagic fishery study was gathered at a question and answer session with members of DEMA, Day Boat Seafood LLC and Caicos Pride held at the National Environmental Centre at 6:00pm, Monday March 18th, 2013.]
The Facts about Long-line Commercial Fishing
Commercial longline vessels range between 10 and 70 meters and will be visible from shore.
- A longline consists of a mainline near the surface or a certain depth which has regularly spaced buoys and a number of attached leaders with baited hooks evenly spaced along it.
- These main lines can ￼extend as long as 100 miles with thousands of baited hooks.
- Once hooked, some animals drown or bleed to death in the water while others struggle for hours until they are reeled in.
- Incidental catch rates are of concern – billions of billfish, sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, birds and whales are injured and killed each year by longlines.
- The negative impact of longline commercial fishing in TCI will extend far beyond the charter and recreational sportfishing community and will affect all water based activities, tourism, real estate and more.
- While some longline outfits take precautions to ensure the live release of bycatch, animals released after being caught can suffer from loss of their protective outer coating, build up of lactic acid, oxygen depletion, damage to fins and mouths, distress and ultimately death.
MSC Certification does not mean sustainability. A recent study showed that after examining 71 MSC-certified stocks, 31% were deemed undeserving of their certification as they were found to be overfished and subject to continued overfishing.