Baton Rouge, La- Today, with the passage of HB 668, Louisiana agreed to reverse a 1987 state law possibly contributing to the deaths of thousands of sea turtles every year in shrimp trawl nets off the state’s coast. Federal law requires shrimp trawlers to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), which create an opening in fishing nets to allow trapped sea turtles to escape before they drown. Louisiana was the only state that refused to enforce this federal law, even though the state’s vessels make up a significant portion of the Southeast Shrimp Trawl Fishery, which is responsible for 53,000 sea turtle deaths every year. The bill passed today would repeal this state law to allow Louisiana state officials to enforce the use of TEDs in shrimp trawls, as is done in the other Southeastern coastal states.
The Louisiana shrimp industry supported the bill, with the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force, made up of industry stakeholders, officially voting in favor of reversing the 1987 law, partly to help improve the conservation rating of their shrimp. Louisiana was the only state “red-listed” on the popular Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guide, which analyzes the sustainability of fisheries. This rating advises consumers to avoid Louisiana wild shrimp. Because of their sustainability commitments, 13,000 restaurants and stores across the U.S refused to source shrimp caught in Louisiana.
Oceana Fisheries Campaign Manager Gib Brogan released the following statement:
“This law is good for the oceans and good for the shrimp industry. We applaud Louisiana officials listening to their constituents and doing the right thing by passing this bill. By lifting the enforcement ban, Louisiana recognizes that protecting sea turtles and promoting responsibly managed fisheries are not mutually exclusive. TEDs have been proven to reduce sea turtle deaths by 97 percent when used correctly. The effective use of TEDs by shrimp fishermen is important to the future of the fishery and the continued survival of sea turtles.
This bill levels the playing field for Louisiana shrimp fishermen, who have been put at a severe disadvantage due to the red-listing of shrimp from their state. It is likely that Louisiana shrimp will now be considered a “good alternative” like the rest of the U.S. wild-caught Gulf shrimp. Louisiana-caught shrimp would then have access to additional markets around the U.S. that are currently denied them, ultimately improving the industry’s bottom line. Overall, lifting the ban is a win-win for sea turtles and the Louisiana shrimp fishery.
To learn more about Oceana’s work protecting sea turtles, please click here.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America, Asia, and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org