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Analysis of a Fisheries Model for Harvest of Hawksbill Sea Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata)
Selina S. Heppell and Larry B. Crowder
Vol. 10, No. 3 (Jun., 1996), pp. 874-880
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2387111
Page Count: 7
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The hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is valued for its mottled shell, called bekko in Japan. Populations of hawksbills have declined worldwide, and currently there is a ban on all international trade of hawksbill shell and products (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). In 1992 the Bekko Association of Japan introduced a fisheries model for hawksbill sea turtles in Cuba. The model estimated a sustainable yield of 5500 turtles from Cuban feeding grounds. We examined the model to determine whether this level of harvest was reasonable. Little biological information is available for hawksbills, so the model contained a number of simplifying assumptions, and several of its parameters were unsupported by data. The population was assumed to be at equilibrium, with a constant number of recruits (1-year-old turtles) and constant annual survival and growth rates. We analyzed the model to see how population size and sustainable yield results were affected by changes in various model parameters, and we found that the model was most sensitive to annual survival probability, which was assumed to be a constant 90% per year for all turtles greater than 1 year old. When we entered growth curves generated by mark-recapture data from other hawksbill populations, the model predicted a wide range of population sizes and sustainable yields. We determined that the assumptions of the current model make it unreliable for predicting sustainable yield of hawksbills, and that much research is needed to produce a more accurate model for management of this endangered species.
Conservation Biology © 1996 Wiley