Protected Resources

Fishing Around Sea Turtles

Fishermen helps sea turle Photo: Fisherman helps sea turtle by safely cutting it free from fishing line. The Fishing Around Sea Turtles program promotes
co-existence between Hawaii fishermen and sea turtles through practical fishing tips, increased awareness, and best practice suggestions to assist a turtle if an accidental fishing interaction occurs.










Program objectives:

fishing reelsphoto: Mike Lameier

If you accidentally catch a turtle - it's OK to help!

Line entanglement around flippers, head or neck is the greatest threat to sea turtles from hook and line fisheries. Fisherman are encouraged – at the moment an accidental interaction occurs – to please help  remove and limit the amount of line left on reefs or left trailing an animal after being cut loose. 

Always remember − your personal SAFETY FIRST. Turtles are wild animals that may bite, have very strong front flippers and jaws, and are deceptively heavy so take care to not injure yourself while attempting to help them. Also please avoid causing further injury to the animal.

turtle caught in fishing net
Photo: Green sea turtle entangled in monofilament line. NMFS MTRP

If you choose to help and it is safe for you and the turtle:

REEL-IN turtle with care. Please bring in the animal for disentanglement. Do the best you can to reel-in (land) the animal carefully. DO NOT drag a turtle up a cliff.

HOLD turtle by its shell and/or flippers.

CUT line close to hook as short as possible .Cut line closs to the hook


REMOVE the hook only if it can be done without injury to you or the turtle.  If the hook barb is exposed smash the barb down to easily extract the hook and shorten the handling time of the turtle.  DO NOT remove the hook if swallowed. If using a barbless hook, then the hook should easily come out.

RELEASE turtle with no line attached. Remove any line from flippers, head and neck. Help to remove any remaining line from the reef. Dispose of the line in a responsible manner. 

injured turtle






Photo: Sea turtle injured by monofilament line and disentangled by NOAA Marine Turtle Research Program. NMFS MTRP



Report Injured or Stranded Turtles

Please REPORT injured or dead turtles to the Marine Turtle Stranding Hotline

(808) 725-5730 (weekdays, 7am-4pm)
(808) 286-4377 (after hours)
Enforcement: (808) 587-0077 or 643-DLNR (3567)

(808) 274-3344
Enforcement: (808) 274-3521 (DLNR)

(808) 286-2549 (primary) or (808) 286-2899
Enforcement: (808) 837-3990 (DLNR)

(808) 286-4359 (Hilo), (808) 881-4200 (N. Kona), (808) 327-6226 (S. Kona)
Enforcement: (808) 974-6208 (DLNR Hilo), (808) 327-4962 (DLNR Kona)

Practical Fishing Tips

The following information may help to prevent hooking or reduce the potential for interactions with sea turtles when fishing. 

You can make your own barbless circle hook by crimping the barb.

How to make your own barbless circle hook

Follow the barbless circle hook program on Facebook:

Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the natural history and ecology of Hawaiian green sea turtles:


Turtle sticker

Keep all this information close at hand while you are out fishing in Hawaii. Pick up a reflective "Fishing Around Sea Turtles" decal at Hawaii fishing or tackle stores and at fishing tournaments.  Decals / best-practice guidance are intended for fishing in waters around Hawaii only.
(Click on sticker for view of actual size of sticker - 5"x6")

Contact information

Feedback is welcome! Please let us know how this information and tips for Fishing Around Sea Turtles have or haven't worked for you. This information helps us to improve our products, messaging, and outreach strategy to fishermen and the community.

To share your feedback about the "Fishing Around Sea Turtles" program or other sea turtle-fisherman concerns, please contact:

To share your stories about using barbless circle hooks, please contact:
NOAA Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center:
Kurt Kawamoto (808) 725-5362