Protected Resources

International Sea Turtle Activities

Papua New Guinea:
Building the Capacity of the Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority
Observer training-turtle fisheries interaction mitigation techniques

Photo: Principal Investigator Mike McCoy trains NFA observers in turtle tagging techniques. Credit: Mike McCoy

The purpose of this project is to train tuna and prawn fishermen and vessel observers in the use of techniques to minimize both the number and adverse consequences of interactions between sea turtles and fishing gear. This project is believed to be the first to introduce such techniques in Papua New Guinea (PNG). PNG serves as an important project site as it has nesting and foraging populations of threatened and endangered sea turtles, including leatherback, green, hawksbill, olive ridley, flatback and loggerhead turtles. Training vessel observers in techniques for proper sea turtle dehooking, release, and tagging, along with the implementation of TED technology, is of great importance to sea turtle conservation and management in PNG.

The focus of this first step was to convince the fishing industry and government fishery management institutions of the need to conserve sea turtles; it was not simply a training or workshop exercise. Reinforcement of positive management attitudes with respect to sea turtle interactions with commercial fisheries is expected to require additional exposure to the topic.

The tuna longline fishing industry was also the focus of the introduction of sea turtle bycatch topics. Meetings were held with two companies in the tuna longline industry to introduce concepts of reducing adverse interactions with sea turtles. Instructional materials provided were accepted and assurances given that they would be placed on board vessels. Separate discussions with the head of the Fishing Industry Association indicated that there would be general acceptance of interaction mitigation guidelines as long as there was no cost to industry in implementation.

During Phase Two (August 8-27 2005), the Principal Investigator along with the NFA Deputy Observer Coordinator further trained observers during site visits to major ports in PNG including Port Moresby, Madang, Lae and Rabaul. Meetings with the tuna industry were expanded to include some of the major domestic tuna purse seine firms. A special effort was made to contact tuna purse seine companies based in Madang (RD) and Lae (Frabelle) to discuss turtle-related issues in purse seining.

Turtle Excluder Device (TED) introduction and trials

JIMAR (Joint Institute for Marine & Atmospheric Research) Project

Photo: PNG fishermen and Prawn Trawl Expert, Garry Day at TED introduction workshop. Credit: Mike McCoy.

During fiscal year 2005, NFA began phase one of a project aimed at reducing incidental catch of sea turtles in the prawn trawl fishery and acquiring a broader understanding of the level of sea turtle interactions with other commercial fisheries in PNG. The project is designed to introduce TEDs in the prawn fishery and to identify the amount and types of interaction between sea turtles in other commercial fisheries, particularly shark and tuna fisheries. The project provided fishermen with information and materials that are designed to increase the likelihood of survival of sea turtles that are captured during the course of these fishing operations in PNG.

In Phase Two of this project, a Prawn Trawl Expert (PTE) worked during FY 05 to identify sources of materials and machine shop(s) with the technical capacity for TED construction within PNG. Another PTE will join the project in 2007 to carryout TED trials on-board trawl vessels.

PNG National Fisheries Authority: http://www.fisheries.gov.pg/index.htm