Small is not always beautiful when it comes to fisheries. This conclusion may come as a surprise to some ocean lovers (and ocean scientists--see "solution 2").
A new study documents harm to sea turtles caused by some small-scale fisheries in Mexico. Because the fisheries operate where turtles aggregate (see diagram above left), the small-scale fisheries are probably worse for turtles than the industrial fisheries that affect these same turtles but operate where turtles are more dispersed.
Or should I say these fisheries WERE a problem. Conservation groups recently sponsored a gear buyout and some research and funding for new fishing methods that have greatly reduced the impact of these fisheries on turtles. Way to go everyone!
This study shows that small-scale fisheries are not always lower impact than large industrial fisheries. Supporting small-scale fisheries may make sense from a social perspective, but not necessarily from a conservation perspective. It's not the size of the boat or the gear, but how you use it.