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An Expert Consultation on Interactions between Sea Turtles and Fisheries within an Ecosystem Context was convened by FAO and held in Rome, Italy, from 9 to 12 March 2004. The meeting was attended by 11 experts from seven countries, covering expertise related to sea turtle biology and conservation, fishing gear technology, fisheries management and socio-economics. The Expert Consultation was organized to provide technical input to the Technical Consultation to take place in Bangkok, Thailand, later in 2004, as agreed at the twenty-fifth session of the Committee on Fisheries, held in Rome, Italy, from 24 to 28 February 2003. This document includes all the contributions prepared by the participating experts as background information to the Expert Consultation.

The first four papers provide an overview of available information on biology, distribution and main sources of natural and man-induced sea turtle mortality for the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea, respectively.

Gear technology developments to reduce impacts on sea turtles are reviewed in papers 5 to 7. Special emphasis is given to the Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) and mitigation measures in pelagic longline fishing. Management experiences in reducing sea turtle bycatch in coastal fisheries, including implementation of technology standards and area/time closures, are covered by paper 8.

Examples of conservation efforts aimed at preserving nesting beach habitats and at preventing direct take of sea turtles and their eggs are presented for two locations in Indonesia (paper 9). The examples show the importance of community empowerment in the implementation of conservation measures.

Finally, paper 10 describes an important case study from the State of Orissa (India). Here olive ridley turtles congregate in large numbers in the shallow coastal waters that also happen to be the richest fishing grounds and the source of livelihoods for traditional fishing communities in that region. Experiences made in implementing various management measures to reduce sea turtle mortality due to fishing are presented, with particular emphasis on the consequences that these have had on traditional fishing communities.

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