Louisiana Takes First Step To Reversing State Ban on Enforcing Federal Sea Turtle Protection Laws

New Orleans (April 4, 2014) – At the April 3 meeting of the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force in Baton Rouge, committee members voted 4-2 in favor of enforcing use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) on shrimp boats in state waters.

Although a federal law requires the use of TEDs on shrimp trawls to allow endangered sea turtles to escape without drowning, a law passed by the Louisiana legislature in 1987 has prevented their state law enforcement from boarding boats to check for TEDs.

A committee made up of shrimp fishermen and processors discussed the need for the industry to “move forward” and join all other Gulf states in protecting sea turtles.  The endangered Kemp’s ridley and other sea turtle species migrate along the Gulf to forage and nest facing added danger in Louisiana state waters.

“Responsible shrimpers recognize that reversing the TEDs enforcement ban is a win for sea turtles, the shrimp fleet and the state of Louisiana,” said Teri Shore, Program Director of Turtle Island Restoration Network (Turtle Island), which has worked for years to bring about the repeal of the Louisiana law preventing enforcement of the TED law in their state waters. 

 “By revising this outdated law, the image of Louisiana as well as its marine resources and fishermen will benefit, as TEDs have proven their value and their effectiveness in all the other Gulf states over the decades,” said Carole Allen, Turtle Island’s Gulf of Mexico Campaign Director.

“We applaud members of the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force for voting to protect sea turtles in state waters,” said Todd Steiner, Turtle Island’s Executive Director.

The vote to repeal the law comes the week before the international sea turtle community convenes in New Orleans for the 34th Annual International Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation April 10-17. Governor Bobby Jindal has been asked to attend and meet the hundreds of sea turtle biologists and academicians who work to protect sea turtles around the world.

Louisiana shrimp was red-listed as seafood to avoid by Seafood Watch, the most popular nationally distributed consumer seafood choice guide published by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.  The Task Force discussed the importance of Louisiana shrimp being recognized as sustainable. Action will need to be taken by the Louisiana legislature to repeal the law but the committee’s vote is extremely important.