Federal Scientists Point to Shrimpers in Many Turtle Deaths

Baby Sea Turtle rescue
Emails reveal that shrimping vessels operating in the wake of the oil spill routinely failed to properly install “turtle excluder devices.”

05-26-2011 // Miles Grant (National Wildlife Federation)

Six times the annual average of sea turtles were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico last year and hundreds more have washed up this year. While the Gulf oil disaster was to blame for many of the deaths, just-released government documents obtained by the group Oceana are shedding new light on another cause:

More than a dozen e-mails, obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries service by the advocacy group Oceana, provide extensive evidence that shrimping vessels operating in the wake of the oil spill routinely failed to properly install “turtle excluder devices,” aimed at keeping imperiled turtle species out of their gear. [...]

But the e-mails show that shrimpers across the Gulf of Mexico are routinely failing to place the devices in their nets or installing them improperly. One e-mail describing a series of inspections in Louisiana called “compliance to be poor at best.” At the port of Cameron, one out of nine vessels were found in compliance with the law; in Intracoastal City, La., two out of 17 met federal requirements; and in four other areas where boats were boarded, three out of 29 met the legal test.

The turtle excluder devices are metal grids that allow trapped turtles to push their way out. Shrimpers don't like them because the when the turtles crawl out, some of the catch can be lost.

Six times the annual average of sea turtles were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico last year and hundreds more have washed up this year. While the Gulf oil disaster was to blame for many of the deaths, just-released government documents obtained by the group Oceana are shedding new light on another cause:
More than a dozen e-mails, obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries service by the advocacy group Oceana, provide extensive evidence thatshrimping vessels operating in the wake of the oil spill routinely failed to properly install “turtle excluder devices,” aimed at keeping imperiled turtle species out of their gear. [...]
But the e-mails show that shrimpers across the Gulf of Mexico are routinely failing to place the devices in their nets or installing them improperly. One e-mail describing a series of inspections in Louisiana called “compliance to be poor at best.” At the port of Cameron, one out of nine vessels were found in compliance with the law; in Intracoastal City, La., two out of 17 met federal requirements; and in four other areas where boats were boarded, three out of 29 met the legal test.
The turtle excluder devices are metal grids that allow trapped turtles to push their way out. Shrimpers don't like them because the when the turtles crawl out, some of the catch can be lost. (More here.)

Comments

  1. This is very troubling. Thanks for the post.

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  2. The after effects of the oil disaster just go on and on, don't they? And yet. there are plans for more oil wells in the gulf. It boggles my mind.

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  3. Oh how sad!! And tragic for the turtle population!!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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  4. Very sad. I'm not too surprised though. When I lived on the Gulf Coast years ago I knew some shrimpers. They pretty much consider themselves a law onto themselves and regulations are meant to avoided. I only knew two so I can't say that is how they all were but that is the impression I got.

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  5. This is horrible in more ways than one.
    I think people have to take over and make sure enough turtles are born to replace what is lost due to this sort of behavior.But also why do shrimpers still catch shrimp when it is not clear now if they are good to eat.

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