Fishing to supply growing global demand for seafood presents a major threat to sea turtles. Fishermen targeting swordfish, tuna, shark and shrimp catch turtles unintentionally. Incidental capture and targeted fishing of sea turtles for consumption can contribute to population declines even when nesting beaches are protected.

© Brian Skerry |

Unable to surface to breathe, many turtles drown after becoming entangled in fishing lines or ensnared by nets. Other turtles, lured by fishing bait, become hooked and sustain injuries that can still kill them even if they are released.

The incidental capture of turtles as bycatch is underregulated and the difficulty of enforcing laws at sea creates opportunities for consumption of turtles even when they are afforded legal protections.