Posted by Christian Wilson: Before measures were enacted to reduce sea turtle bycatch in fishing gear, about 300,000 sea turtles were accidentally caught, and 70,000 of those died as a result. According to a recently-released study performed by researchers at Conservation International and Duke University’s Project GloBAL, the number of sea turtles accidentally killed in fishing gear has declined by about 90 percent since 1990. The researchers looked at data collected by the National Marine Fisheries Service over the past 20 years, and found that total turtle bycatch rates (both fatal and non-fatal) have fallen about 60 percent. The study also showed that around 98 percent of all bycatch takes and deaths during the study period resulted from shrimp trawls in the Gulf of Mexico. It attributed the drop in bycatch rates to the implementation of measures to reduce bycatch. Such measures include the use of circle hooks, the use of turtle excluder devices in shrimp trawl nets (these allow turtles to escape the nets), and restricting fishing in certain areas depending on where sea turtles are likely to be at any given time. While the study does note that regulation remains a problem, these are certainly encouraging results.