Charlotte Hudson of Oceana wrote about a Sunday comic strip on government efforts to protect sea turtles [" 'Mark Trail' Highlights a Real Threat to Turtles," letters, June 30]. Her misunderstanding of the situation may mislead some readers.

As celebrated by "Mark Trail" on June 20, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has developed breakthrough technology to conserve sea turtles in long-line fisheries around the world. Effective this summer, the U.S. fleet in the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean will be required to use large circle hooks instead of "J" hooks, a fact Ms. Hudson overlooked. Because most sea turtle deaths associated with this fishery are caused by ingestion of "J" hooks, this is good news for turtles.

During the past several years, NOAA has aggressively advanced scientific knowledge of how to protect turtles from long-line fishing gear. It has taken the lead in developing turtle-safe technologies, which it is sharing with other nations, providing the impetus for sea turtle conservation on a global scale. To be successful, we need cooperation from the industry and evidence that we can have both turtle conservation and a profitable fishery at home and abroad.

The American fleet is highly regulated, and it accounts for a fraction of the harm to sea turtles globally. U.S. boats are required to report all of their activities and catches, install satellite transmitters that allow us to track their location and carry federal observers on board when requested.

The large circle hooks, along with new dehooking gear, will further reduce this fishery's effect on sea turtles.



National Marine Fisheries Service

National Oceanic and

Atmospheric Administration

Silver Spring