Sea turtles temporarily lose protection from trawlers in wake of Hurricane Katrina
Release from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
October 2, 2005
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has granted shrimp trawlers a temporary 30-day exemption from federal Turtle Excluder Device requirements in certain state and federal waters off Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Turtle Excluder Devices protect sea turtles and other large marine animals from being captured in trawl nets. The exemption from federal TED requirements will expire at 11:59 pm on October 22, 2005, unless otherwise extended by NMFS.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has granted shrimp trawlers a temporary 30-day exemption from federal Turtle Excluder Device (TED) requirements in certain state and federal waters off Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Shrimp trawlers fishing in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana waters westward to the boundary of Vermilion and Cameron Parish at longitude 92 degrees and 37 minutes West and extending 50 nautical miles offshore are now exempt from federal TED requirements through October 22, 2005. In lieu of TEDs, this authorization requires shrimp trawlers to restrict tow times to 55 minutes measured from the time trawl doors enter the water until they are retrieved from the water according to NMFS. This exemption from federal TED requirements will expire at 11:59 pm on October 22, 2005, unless otherwise extended by NMFS. Federal regulations provide for the use of limited tow times as an alternative to the use of TEDs if determined "that the presence of debris or other special environmental conditions in a particular area makes trawling with TED-equipped nets impracticable."
Turtle escaping from net equipped with a Turtle Excluder Device (TED). According to NOAA, "a Turtle Excluder Device or TED is a grid of bars with an opening either at the top or the bottom of the trawl net. The grid is fitted into the neck of a shrimp trawl. Small animals such as shrimp pass through the bars and are caught in the bag end of the trawl. When larger animals, such as marine turtles and sharks are captured in the trawl they strike the grid bars and are ejected through the opening." Photo credit: NOAA.
NMFS encourages shrimp trawlers in the affected areas to continue to use TEDs if possible. NMFS' studies have shown that the problem of clogging by seagrass, algae, or by other debris is not unique to TED-equipped nets. When fishermen trawl in problem areas, they may experience clogging with or without TEDs. Shrimp trawlers who continue to use legal TEDs in the affected areas do not have to limit their tow times. However, shrimpers choosing to use tow-time limitations may not simply sew the TED flaps shut; they must remove the TEDs from the trawls.
NMFS will continue to monitor this situation. If monitoring indicates that debris is no longer a problem, then this authorization will be shortened. If debris continues to be a problem after the dates above, this authorization may be extended. Fishermen should monitor NOAA weather radio for announcements or contact the NMFS Southeast Regional Office at 727 824-5312.
Louisiana shrimp fishermen and LDWF marine fisheries biologists have reported the presence of large amounts of storm related debris throughout the impacted area. This debris primarily consists not only of man-made debris but matted grasses, rooted clumps of marsh vegetation, Roseau cane and branches uprooted and displaced by the storm. The debris has severely impacted both shrimp catch and TED performance and has damaged fishing gear as well.
Sex sells sea turtle conservation in Mexico September 6, 2005
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Sea turtle massacre in Mexico August 11, 2005
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Sea turtles protected in Costa Rica are killed in Nicaragua July 26, 2005
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Free floating fishing nets kill marine mammals, turtles and sea birds May 4, 2005
Thousands of miles from any human habitation, fishing nets hundreds of meters long and balls of net tens of meters across, lost or abandoned by their former owners but still an environmental hazard, foul huge swaths of the Pacific Ocean. However, the sheer mass of those so-called ghostnets floating freely in waves has come as an unpleasant surprise to NOAA scientists studying the phenomenon.
This article includes a press release from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The original version appears at LA. SHRIMPERS RECEIVE TEMPORARY TURTLE EXCLUDER DEVICE (TED) EXEMPTION FOLLOWING HURRICANE KATRINA