Sea Turtle Excluder Devices for Shrimpers in Shallow Water Proposed by NOAABy Rhonda Miller | Published 07 Jun 2012 07:14pm |
A proposal to require small shrimp boats to have devices to protect sea turtles is drawing criticism from local fishermen. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports state marine experts aren’t convinced either.
The director of the shrimp program for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Traci Floyd, says sea turtles are occasionally injured in shrimp nets and stranded on shore.
"However, most of the strandings are occurring when there’s no shrimping occurring - the shrimp season is not open or we’ll have limited waters open. This year, when we saw the peaks in strandings, I think we counted less than a dozen boats working for that entire period."
From January through May, 130 sea turtles have washed ashore in Mississippi.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration held a public hearing in D’Iberville earlier this week on a proposed rule to require Turtle Excluder Devices, called TEDs, on shrimp boats that trawl in shallow waters. The devices have an opening that allows sea turtles to swim out of the net.
Michael Barnette of NOAA Fisheries says TEDs are already required on larger shrimp boats.
"We know that TEDs work in the offshore fishery. We know it will work for the skimmer trawl fishery. Obviously, there’ll be a learning curve, using any new gear. But we know they will exclude sea turtles with minimal shrimp loss."
Shrimper Tuan Dang says fishermen are struggling to earn a living and the devices are one more obstacle.
"They’re going to lose more shrimp. It’s just like you cut another hole in your net. And also, it’s heavier; well, they’re going to spend more fuel on it."
Dang has his own ideas about the spike in sea turtle deaths in the past couple of years.
"Well, personally, they keep blaming it on the fishermen. But technically, I think it has something to do with the BP oil spill."
NOAA is accepting public comment on the proposed rule until July ninth.
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