Prosdocimi, L., N. Teryda, G. Navarro, and R. R. Carthy. 2020. Use of remote sensing tools to predict focal areas for sea turtle conservation in the Southwestern Atlantic. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 2020:1–11. DOI: 10.1002/aqc.3478
1. Fisheries bycatch of non- target species in the commercial fleet is a major source of anthropogenic injury and mortality for sea turtles and marine megafauna. 2. The Río de la Plata, Maritime Front (RLPMF) and its adjacent international waters - comprising part of the Argentine and Uruguayan exclusive economic zones (EEZs), is a highly important fishing ground in the South-western Atlantic Ocean (SWAO) as well as feeding and development grounds for sea turtles. 3. This paper analyses the distribution of the bottom and pelagic trawling fishery within the RLPMF using information from Vessel Satellite Monitoring System (VMS). With this information, areas of highest trawling intensity were defined and further evaluated their overlap with sea turtle habitat-use areas from available sea turtle satellite tracking information.4. Results besides identifying high-susceptibility areas for sea turtle bycatch by the commercial trawler fleet along the RLPMF, provide predictive tools to identify vulnerable areas to interaction of sea turtles and the commercial fishing fleet.5. Implementation of bycatch mitigation measures, such as reduced fishing effort areas by the Argentine and Uruguayan fisheries management agencies has the potential to benefit the fisheries as well as marine megafauna. Furthermore, there is a need for additional research on the impact this fleet can have on sea turtles present in the area.