Over a recent 18-month period, about 1,000 sea turtles were caught by longlines in the gulf's reef fish fishery -- about eight times the federally mandated capture level. Almost 800 of the turtles were loggerheads, a threatened species that is protected under the Endangered Species Act.
The council declared an emergency ruling prohibiting longline gear in water shallower than 50 fathoms for the next six months while the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) decides on a long-term solution.
According to the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, about a quarter of a million sea turtles are inadvertently caught by swordfish, tuna and shrimp boats.
- Take the Sea Turtle Restoration Project Seafood Pledge