Florida Sea Grant Extension in Collier County

Welcome to the Collier County Sea Grant Extension Blog

This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my extension outreach efforts and useful information to make you a more informed coastal citizen. If you have any questions about what you see, feel free to contact me at fluech@ufl.edu.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

NOAA Protected Species Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshop

A sample of gear required for
commercial longliners/gillnetters
to minimize impacts on
marine life.

This morning I participated in a NOAA Protected Species Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshop in Clearwater, FL. According to NOAA, "these workshops are designed to educate longline and gillnet fishermen on the proper techniques for safe handling and release of entangled or hooked protected species, such as sea turtles, marine mammals, and smalltooth sawfish. The identification of protected species is also taught at these workshops to help improve the accuracy of reporting." The workshop is required for all commercial vessel owners and operators who hold permits for highly migratory species such as shark or swordfish who use longlines or gillnets.  Obviously I am not a commercial fishermen and to date, I haven't even worked with any longliners, but since a lot of my extension work focuses on fisheries, I have found it to to be a good training to keep me up to date on some of the gear and techniques used by the industry to minimize impact on protected species they come in contact with while fishing. Its also a unique opportunity to meet and interact with fishermen from around the state. Although the workshop is required by NOAA, it is actually taught by Angler Conservation Education, a non-profit organization out of Daytona, FL- (386) 682-0158 who is subcontracted by NOAA fisheries. This was the second time I've taken the training and I knew the instructors, so it was nice to catch up with them as well.The workshop consisted of presentations, instructional videos as well as hands-on training on how to use various dehooking devices; We practiced removing hooks from simulated sea turtles-cardboard boxes! My goal is to share what I learned at today's training with my fisheries stakeholders in the future. Enjoy the video and pictures!

Kristen Raabe with Angler Conservation Education demonstrates how to remove a hook from a "sea turtle" (aka the square box kind) that has been hooked, but not entangled by  fishing gear, and would be too large to bring aboard a boat.

A commercial fisherman from Panama City, FL practices removing a "deeply swallowed" hook  using a Scotty's dehooking tool.

Each of the participants had to try out the various dehooking tools.

We each took turns dehooking the "box" sea turtle.

A commercial longliner practices using an ARC dehooking tool.

In this scenario the "turtle" is entangled, but not hooked. My partner first secures the loose hook with a long-poled dehooker to prevent it from injuring the animal,  while I use a line cutter to remove the entangled line.

Kristen Raabe from ACE shows the group how to tether a turtle around its flipper (shoulder) so it can be secured by the side of the boat and any gear removed.

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