Turtle Excluder Devices protect threatened and endangered sea turtles while providing economic benefits to shrimp fishermen.
Representative Jeffry Landry of Louisiana is trying to block new rules that will require Turtle Excluder Devices in all shrimp vessels, including skimmer trawls that are used widely in his state's shallow waters.
Landry's deadly amendments passed the U.S. House of Representatives on May 9, 2012, as part of the Appropriations bill for Commerce, Justice and Science agencies. Next step is to defeat them in the Senate and appeal to President Obama if needed. Watch for updates and actions!
• The Landry amendment seeks to short circuit important public involvement on a proposed rule released by the National Marine Fisheries Service on May 8, 2012. There will be ample opportunities to comment on the proposed rule including public hearings scheduled for May and June.
• Since the passage of the year-round turtle excluder device (TED) regulations in 1992, TEDs have benefited the shrimp industry and the environment by reducing the accidental capture of other species and therefore fuel consumption. Nets equipped with TEDs last longer because harmful debris is ejected and shrimp catch is cleaner because it is not crushed by unwanted animals.
• TEDs are already required in other shrimp trawl fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic to reduce sea turtle bycatch. The proposed skimmer trawl rule closes a loophole that has exempted a segment of the fishery, skimmer trawls, from existing requirements. They should be applied equitably across all shrimp trawl fisheries that pose threats to endangered and threatened sea turtles.
• There is ample evidence that the proposed rule is necessary to stop the high levels of sea turtle mortality seen in the Southeast in 2011. During that year, more than 3500 threatened and endangered sea turtles washed up dead in the Gulf and South Atlantic. Since only 5-6% of dead turtles wash ashore, actual mortality is very much higher.
Louisiana’s failure to enforce federal laws and protect endangered sea turtles and sustainable fisheries demonstrates that the state does not represent the best interests of Congressional mandates to conserve marine resources in its own waters nor those of neighboring states.
• Louisiana has the greatest number of shrimp vessels and records the highest shrimp landings of any state in the entire U.S.
• Louisiana is the only state that refuses to enforce 25-year-old federal sea turtle protection laws that require Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in shrimp trawl nets.
• Two years ago, the Louisiana legislature, working with the state’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, passed a bill to advance sustainability programs for both saltwater and freshwater fish resources and to repeal the prohibition of state enforcement of federal TED and fish excluder device laws. It was vetoed by Governor Bobby Jindal.
• Louisiana is now moving to extend its state waters from 3 miles to 10 miles to increase its jurisdiction in coastal waters, an action that will further undermine federally mandated marine resource and conservation mandates and contradict the policies of neighboring states. (See Press Release, May 4, 2012 http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/news/35451).
• NMFS conducted inspections of TEDs in Louisiana after high sea turtle strandings in 2011 and found that Federal inspectors in Louisiana found only 3 of 29 shrimping nets had legal TEDs, and 21 were found with TEDs which “would result in the capture and death of a sea turtle” including several of the escape hatches that were sewn shut. (FOIA documents, see http://seaturtles.org/downloads/PublicFOIA_%20TEDinspections2011.pdf)
• In its most recent Bycatch Report, NMFS determined that the Gulf of Mexico shrimp trawl fishery dominated by Louisiana had a 76 percent bycatch ratio, the highest of any fishery in the U.S.(NMFS National Bycatch Report, September 2011) See PR and download here http://seaturtles.org/article.php?id=2124)
• In 2011, an unprecedented high number of endangered and protected sea turtles were found stranded in the Gulf of Mexico including Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries reported that skimmer trawls were operating illegally in closed areas during the time the increased sea turtle strandings occurred.
• Both Florida and Texas claim state waters to nine miles, but Florida requires and enforces TEDs in all shrimp gear including skimmer trawls; Texas does not allow skimmer trawl gear.
Additional Info and Details
All six species of sea turtles that occur in U.S. waters remain protected by the Endangered Species Act because none have achieved or even approach recovery goals.
Gulf shrimping is the leading killer of sea turtles in the U.S. and the leading killer of the critically endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles.
Independent marine scientists from the Gulf Coast and across the nation jointly signed a letter with the Sea Turtle Restoration Project (STRP) urging Louisiana’s Governor Bobby Jindal to repeal the law that allows shrimp fishermen to drown sea turtles in Louisiana waters.
Scientists say that 20 years of published studies prove that TEDs save the lives of endangered sea turtles without causing harm to shrimpers. More professors from Louisiana universities signed the letter to Governor Jindal than from any other state. A total of 61 doctorate-level scientists and 21 others from fourteen states signed the letter.