NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Duke University and Conservation International researchers say lack of data from shrimp trawlers is a huge problem in getting a national picture of sea turtle deaths on fishhooks and in fishing nets.
They say total federal estimates of such deaths fell 90 percent from 1990 to 2007.
But Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coast shrimp trawls account for up to 98 percent of all sea turtles caught by people fishing for other species. The scientists say fewer than 1 percent of trawlers carried observers to count turtle "bycatch."
The study released Wednesday is the first compilation of sea turtle bycatch estimates from all fisheries nationwide.
Researcher Elena Finkbeiner (FINK-by-ner) says sea turtle bycatch limits should be set nationally, not by fishery - and more real data is needed.
(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)