Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans, applauded the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) today for approving new regulations for the Atlantic scallop fishery that will require modified fishing gear in areas and during times when threatened and endangered sea turtles are known to be present. The new fishing gear, called a Turtle Deflector Dredge (TDD), is shown to push sea turtles out of harm’s way. In fact, TDDs are expected to reduce sea turtle mortality by at least 56 percent when compared to former dredges that force them into heavy chain bags where they were dragged and often drowned.
“Oceana is relieved that after 10 years of requests, NMFS has finally taken action to reduce the scallop fisheries deadly interaction with threatened sea turtles,” said Gib Brogan, Oceana’s Northeast representative. “We support TDD’s as a solution to sea turtle bycatch in the scallop fishery and commend the industry and its research partners for their work to develop this new gear.”
Today’s decision will go into effect on May 6, 2012 and will be required from May 1 to October 31 in all waters West of 71 degrees W. longitude (near Dartmouth, MA), including the entire Mid-Atlantic (see image below). The Atlantic scallop fishery will have one year to meet these requirements after they go into effect.
“The government’s job does not end by approving these new regulations,” said Brogan. “NMFS must remain vigilant in making sure that TDD’s are used properly and that they are successful in decreasing sea turtle mortality.”