The Gulf of Mexico from the Texas/Louisiana boundary southward to the boundary shared by Matagorda and Brazoria Counties (Texas) is full of debris following Hurricane Ike. The National Marine Fisheries Service has authorized shrimp trawlers not to use their turtle excluder devices (TEDs). Instead, shrimp trawlers in the affected areas can use restricted tow times instead of TEDs. The trawlers must limit their tow times to 55 minutes from the time the trawl doors enter the water until they are removed until November 7 at 11:59 p.m. The authorization extends 20 nautical miles.
Hurricane Gustave brought a similar authorization in the waters off Louisiana from the Mississippi/Louisiana boundary to the Texas/Louisiana boundary extending offshore 20 nautical miles due to debris from Hurricane Gustave. This authorization ends on October 26.
According to an article in the Beaumont Enterprise, shrimpers are only catching 1/3 of what they normally catch because of heavy debris levels. With such low rates of catch and the danger of large objects in the water, it would make sense for the government to suspend shrimping instead of calling for a limited tow time which is virtually un-enforceable.
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