Despite it being legal, green sea turtles may be facing a serious threat from overfishing. The second largest turtles in the world, these reptiles can grow up to 400 pounds in their native tropical and subtropical waters. A 20-year assessment of Nicaragua's artisanal green sea turtle fishery has uncovered a steep decline in overall catch rates.

During the research period, conservation scientists estimated that more than 170,000 green turtles were killed between 1991 and 2011, with catch rates peaking in 1997 and 2002 and declining steeply after 2008, likely resulting from over-fishing. The trend in catch rates, the authors of the assessment results maintain, indicates the need for take limits on this legal fishery

“The significant decrease in the catch rates of green turtles represents a concern for both conservationists and local, coastal communities who depend on this resource,” said Dr. Lagueux, lead author of the study. “We hope this study serves as a foundation for implementing scientifically based limits on future green turtle take.”

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