Longlining is a fishing technique which involves placing thousands of baited hooks on a fishing line that can stretch for several miles.
This technique gained popularity in the 1980's, with the growing demand for highly valued fish such as tuna, mackerel, and swordfish. Unfortunately, these fish are not the only creatures who are caught and killed on these longlines. The bait also entices marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, sharks and non-target fish species.
Gear modifications and temporary prohibitions can reduce the numbers of bycatch taken by the longlining industry.
For example in 2004, in an effort to protect non-target animals from being caught by longlines, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) prohibited the use of longlines out to 200-miles off California, Oregon and Washington. The decision by the PFMC helped protect countless species from the damaging longlines. The use of circle hooks as opposed to the traditional J-hooks has also increased the number of turtles and other marine animals that are successfully freed from longlines.