For Immediate Release
Director of Communications
Turtle Island Restoration Network
Cell: (415) 488-7711
Center for Biological Diversity
Phone: (727) 490-9190
Director of the Gulf of Mexico Office
Turtle Island Restoration Network
Gov. Jindal Protects Gulf of Mexico Sea Turtles from Drowning in Trawl Nets at Long Last
Baton Rouge, La. (July 1, 2015) – Today (July 1) Governor Bobby Jindal signed Louisiana House Bill 668 into law. Sea turtle conservation groups are welcoming the new law because it will give Louisiana law enforcement officers the power to inspect shrimp boats for Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), which allow sea turtles to escape drowning via a turtle-sized hatch on the trawl nets. Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed a similar bill passed by the legislature in 2010.
“This is a good first step, but rest assured, we will be watch-dogging to make sure enforcement is actually occurring on shrimp trawls in Louisiana waters,” said Todd Steiner, executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network, a leading ocean conservation non-profit with a Sea Turtle Action Center in the Gulf of Mexico.
After a federal law was passed in 1987 requiring protection for sea turtles, the state of Louisiana passed an unbelievable state law forbidding the federal law to be observed. Even as all the other states fell in line to protect endangered sea turtles, Louisiana continued to take a stand against the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“Gov. Jindal and the Louisiana legislature have finally taken a big step toward protecting sea turtles and helping Louisiana’s shrimp industry,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center. “This standoff between Louisiana and federal regulators went on way too long. Today’s news is important for Gulf sea turtles and a shrimp industry that has been trying to do the right thing and end a consumer boycott of its catch.”
The Turtle Island Restoration Network and Center for Biological Diversity, have worked to convince the state’s leaders they were on the wrong track. Two years ago, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program “red listed” shrimp caught in Louisiana state waters. It concluded that Louisiana shrimpers kill endangered sea turtles and other marine animals while fishing for shrimp and their product should not be purchased. Due to this pressure, and over 6,000 petitions from Turtle Island to the Gov., the law moved forward.
Louisiana Representative Dorothy Hill of District 32 introduced House Bill 668 to repeal the old 1987 law, and bring the state into compliance with the ESA. The Bill passed both the House and the Senate this month before going to Gov. Jindal for his signature.
“It is a personal triumph for me that at last, sea turtles will have a chance to live as they migrate across Louisiana waters,” said Carole Allen, long time sea turtle conservationist and Turtle Island Restoration Network’s Gulf of Mexico Office Director. “It has been heartbreaking to know that as other states observed an important Federal law, that Louisiana refused to obey the same law. We are grateful that Representative Hill decided to help her state in this way.”
The National Marine Fisheries Service requires TEDs in shrimp boats. It estimates that more than 52,000 sea turtles — loggerhead, green and Kemp’s ridley — are killed in the Gulf and Atlantic shrimp trawl fisheries each year. TEDs help sea turtles escape from the nets and minimize fatal interactions. Until today, Louisiana was the only state that prohibited its fishery agents from enforcing federal requirements.
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
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.