|GENEVA - A new \"circular\" fishing hook could save thousands of endangered marine turtles snagged accidentally each year by commercial fishermen, the environmental group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said.|
The WWF said results of a new study conducted with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Atlantic Ocean showed that the new hook reduced by 90 percent the number of turtles accidentally snagged and killed by long-line fisheries.
The new hooks, which are called \"circular\" but actually resemble the letter \"G,\" do not snag inside turtles or can be more easily removed than the well-known \"J\"-shaped hook, the WWF said. They are still effective in snagging swordfish, however.
The J-hooks can lead to internal bleeding or suffocation of the turtles if swallowed. Accidental catches, called \"bycatch,\" is the single greatest threat to marine turtles.
As many as 200,000 endangered loggerhead turtles and 50,000 of the critically endangered leatherback turtles are caught annually by commercial fisheries, the WWF said. The WWF will test the new gear in the Pacific by introducing the hook in Ecuador, which has the largest long-line fleet in the eastern Pacific region with around 15,000 vessels and which operates where endangered turtles are known to migrate.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE