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Total bycatch estimate of loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) in the 2004 Atlantic sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) dredge fishery
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    From June to November 2004, an estimated 180 (C.V.=0.37, 95% C.I.=65-319) loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) interacted with sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) dredge gear in the Mid-Atlantic region. Several changes occurred in the scallop dredge fishery during 2004 which may have reduced the probability of encountering a turtle in scallop dredge gear. These include voluntary use by some fishermen of a chain mat, designed to exclude turtles from entering the dredge bag. In addition, rotational closures and gear restrictions implemented under the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan also shifted the distribution of fishing effort. This study used Generalized Additive Model fitting techniques to examine environmental factors and gear characteristics influencing the bycatch rate of turtles in 2004, including an examination of several candidate models to describe turtle interactions with the fishery over 2003-2004. The candidate model that best described the 2004 observed takes was based on the 2004 data alone, rather than on a pooled dataset from 2003-2004. In estimating total bycatch, rates were stratified based on depth, and whether trips fished inside or outside the Hudson Canyon Access Area (HCAA). Highest bycatch rates occurred outside of the HCAA, in depths between 54 and 70m.
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