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Fate of Sea Turtles & Sharks Land on Gulf of Mexico Governors Desks

Texas and Louisiana Legislatures Vote to Protect Marine Wildlife

Galveston, Texas (June 9, 2015) – The governors of two important Gulf of Mexico states – Texas and Louisiana – face pivotal decisions surrounding marine wildlife. In both states legislators have voted in favor of protecting ocean wildlife, now all eyes are on Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

Gov. Abbott has a bill (H.B. 1579)in front of him that would outlaw the sale or purchase of shark fins in Texas where it is estimated that half of the shark fin trade nationwide starts.

In Louisiana, potential presidential hopeful Gov. Bobby Jindal has a bill (H.B, 668) in front of him that would repeal a 1987 state law that forbids the authorities from enforcing a federal law mandating that shrimp trawlers use Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs) that allow sea turtles to escape their nets via a hatch. Today, the House of Representatives confirmed Senate amendments to the bill, which will now move to Gov. Jindal’s desk.

“State legislatures in Texas voted in favor of halting the deadly shark fin trade, and legislatures in Louisiana have voted in favor of protecting sea turtles,” said Joanna Nasar, communications director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “Now it is up to the governors to follow their lead and ensure that Gulf of Mexico is a safe haven for marine life. We sincerely hope Gov. Abbot and Gov. Jindal will do the right thing.”

The shark fin trade is responsible for the senseless death of an estimated 38 million sharks a year according to a study commissioned by the Save our Seas Foundation. In 2006 that number creep as high as 73 million. The Texas state legislature acted decisively, but now it is up to Gov. Abbott to sign these actions into law and ensure that his state is not helping to fuel the extinction of sharks.

“If Governor Bobby Jindal wants to stand out as a forward thinking and broadly appealing presidential candidate he would do well to make the protection of Federally designated endangered species a priority,” said Carole Allen, director of Turtle Island Restoration Network’s Gulf of Mexico Office. “Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that swim in his state waters are in dire need of greater protections.”

The highly productive shrimp fisheries based in Louisiana are currently ‘red-listed’ nationwide because of the 1987 refusal to allow state wildlife officials to enforce TEDs on shrimp trawls. Gov. Jindal has the opportunity to revitalize the struggling economy of the Gulf region, act in the interest of both shrimpers and environmentalists, and to do his part to save endangered Gulf of Mexico sea turtles.

The Governors of Louisiana and Texas are now in a position to affirm the bipartisan efforts in order to help already threatened and endangered Gulf of Mexico species.

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Turtle Island Restoration Network works to mobilize people and communities around the world to protect marine wildlife, the oceans and the inland waterways that sustain them. Join us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. SeaTurtles.Org