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FOR the first time in Spain, joint research carried out by the banking group “La Caixa” in conjunction with the Balearic University, has analysed the mortality rate of marine turtles living in the Western Mediterranean, in order to determine just how much the activity of fishing fleets affects the population which is now in danger of extinction.

Some 6'000 marine turtles out of a total population of 20'000 die every year in the region after becoming accidentally trapped in the nets of fishing fleets. Results of the research show that although the wide arc surface drift nets used to catch tuna and swordfish are largely to blame, “they are not the only culprits,” said professor Lluis Cardona.” Other factors need to be taken into account including the catch methods of Italian and Moroccan fishermen, he added where individual hook and line techniques can mortally wound turtles. The marine research group has used tracking device methods by installing sensor chips on the turtles that are designed for automatic release in the event of the animal dying. By analysing how the turtles are dying, the group hopes to persuade the Fishing industry to adopt alternative methods, such as changing the nature of bait used.