Louisiana Bill Would Save Thousands of Sea Turtles Every Year
Press Release Date: April 6, 2015
Location: Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE, LA- As the Louisiana shrimp fishing season officially kicks off next week, Rep. Dorothy Sue Hill (D-District 32) today introduced bill HB 668, which would help prevent the drowning deaths of thousands of sea turtles every year in shrimp trawl nets off the state’s coast. Federal law requires most shrimp trawlers to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), which create an opening in nets to allow trapped sea turtles to escape. TEDs have been proven to reduce sea turtle deaths by 97 percent. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. that does not enforce this regulation, however, having passed a state law prohibiting officials to enforce the federal law. The bill introduced today would repeal this state law, and require Louisiana state officials to enforce the use of TEDs in shrimp trawls.
On Wednesday, the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force, a group representing the interests of the state’s shrimp industry, voted in favor of reversing the 1987 law and allowing officials to enforce the use of TEDs, partly to help improve the conservation rating of Louisiana shrimp. Louisiana is currently the only U.S. state for which shrimp is “red-listed” on the popular Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Guide.
Oceana Fisheries Campaign Manager Gib Brogan released the following statement:
“Oceana commends the Louisiana shrimp industry for recognizing the need to be responsible stewards of the ocean. This new state bill would not only help save threatened and endangered sea turtles, but it would help protect the livelihoods of Louisiana shrimp fishermen who currently lose money and marketing opportunities due to the red-listing of the state’s shrimp.
Oceana now calls upon the Louisiana Legislature to swiftly pass this bill, and for Governor Jindal to follow the industry’s lead and sign a full repeal of the 1987 law. There is no reason thousands of sea turtles should continue to become collateral damage in this fishery year after year. If passed, this state bill will ensure that all shrimp coming from the Gulf is safe, legal and sea turtle-free.”
Last year, Oceana released the report “Wasted Catch: Unsolved Problems in U.S. Fisheries,” which identified nine of the worst bycatch fisheries in the U.S. The Southeast Shrimp Trawl Fishery, which includes fishermen operating off the coast of Louisiana, was named as one of the most wasteful, throwing out almost two-thirds of what they catch and killing more than 50,000 sea turtles every year. Oceana also sent a letter to Gov. Jindal last year requesting he repeal the law and offering to meet with Louisiana officials to offer scientific expertise verifying that TEDs have been proven effective at reducing sea turtle mortality.
To learn more about Oceana’s work protecting sea turtles, please click here.