G.U.L.F. Helps Boats Comply with Business’ Sustainability Policy

2015-02-13 10.02.54On February 13, G.U.L.F. traveled to Port St. Joe, Florida to organize a meeting between Gary Graham and Lindsey Parker of Sea Grant and the managers and captains at Wood’s Fisheries. One of two major shrimp processors in the Port St. Joe area, Wood’s Fisheries is committed to the sustainability of the Gulf shrimp industry. Their product has been featured in Wegmans and at various sustainable seafood events across the country. To help their boats stay up-to-date and in compliance with the latest TED regulations, they wanted experts to board and inspect two boats in the fleet. Gary and Lindsey conduct voluntary TED inspections across the Gulf of Mexico. They go over the gear on each boat in great detail, and alert the owners of potential problems. This can save the captains and the owners of the vessels precious time and money while out fishing.

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Sea turtle escaping a TED. Photo credit Dan Foster/NOAA

Starting in the 1970’s, concerns over sea turtle mortality from interactions with shrimp vessels heightened. It was thought that these interactions were responsible for declines in many sea turtle populations across the world. Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) were developed to allow sea turtles to escape fishing nets, while fishermen could still retain their shrimp catches and make a living. Extensive research and gear testing have led to TEDs that are 97% effective at excluding turtles. (http://www.state.gov/e/oes/ocns/fish/bycatch/turtles/). Since all species of sea turtles are classified as endangered, TED violations can carry hefty fines and even result in the confiscation of shrimp catch.

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Installing TEDs into shrimp nets is very involved, and there are several measurements that fishermen must adhere to for a TED to be legal. In most cases, non-compliance is unintentional. Gary and Lindsey’s project aims to alert fishermen to problems with their TEDs before they are on the water. That way they have a chance to fix problems and avoid punishment from state and federal enforcement agencies.

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Lindsey Parker measuring the opening of a TED.

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Gary Graham documenting the TED measurements.

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Lindsey helping the captain of the vessel to ensure the bar spacing in the TED are even and legal.

 

Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries acts as a facilitator between industry and management. In cases like this, the processor wanted the boats he bought from to be inspected by a neutral third-party and educate the crew on the current TED regulations. We were able to connect the boat captain and processor with Gary and Lindsey, who have been doing TED research and education with industry for decades. It was a great success and we look forward to continuing to unite the Gulf seafood industry toward greater sustainability.


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