Bycatch in US Fisheries

A review of marine mammal, sea turtle and seabird bycatch in USA fisheries and the role of policy in shaping management

Published in Marine Policy, a leading journal of ocean policy studies.


This paper reviews the available information (observer programs, estimates, statutes, regulations) for bycatch of marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds in fisheries of the United States. Goals of the review were to evaluate the state of knowledge of bycatch and the role of existing protective legislation in  shaping bycatch management for different taxa. Pressing issues are identified, as well as knowledge gaps and policy limitations that hinder multi-species bycatch reduction. The USA has made important progress toward reducing bycatch in its fisheries, but the efficacy of its management has been limited somewhat by a focus on taxon- and fishery-specific regulation and the lack of consistent mandate across taxa for taking acumulative perspective on bycatch. Applying consistent criteria across taxa for setting bycatch limits (e.g., extending the approach used for marine mammals to sea turtles and seabirds) would be the first step in a multi-species approach to bycatch reduction. A population-based multi-species multi-gear approach to bycatch would help identify priority areas where resources are needed most and can be used most effectively.


For more information or to purchase this paper, see:
Marine Policy Journal, Volume 33, Issue 3, May 2009, Pages 435-451.

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EditTitle:A sea turtle in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area.
EditDescription:'Bycatch' is unwanted fish and other marine creatures caught during commercial fishing for a different species. Sea turtles are often the victims of bycatch.
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EditPhoto Description:A sea turtle in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area.
EditPhoto Credit:� Cat Holloway
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