Louisiana agents now allowed to enforce TEDs in state waters

DSC_7867aToday,  Bill HR 668 passed into law, which repeals the 1987 law prohibiting state agents from enforcing turtle excluder devices (TEDs) on shrimp trawls in state waters. TEDs are installed in nets to allow endangered sea turtles to escape while shrimpers are fishing. Since 1987, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and the United States Coast Guard, who have the authority to penalize boat owners if there is a TED violation, have been working in Louisiana waters, ensuring TEDs are installed properly. Moving forward, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) agents will contribute to efforts that ensure compliance with TED requirements in state waters. The change comes after the Shrimp Task Force submitted a letter supporting the repeal of the law earlier this spring. The law goes into effect August 1, 2015.

Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) has worked to advance seafood sustainability in the Gulf of Mexico since 2012. John Hewitt IV, G.U.L.F.’s Executive Director, said, “We are fortunate to live and work in this region and have been collaborating with industry and LDWF since the program’s inception. We fully support the repeal of this law and applaud what the Shrimp Task Force, fishermen, and regulators do on a daily basis to make sure our fisheries are well-managed. We are looking forward to continuing to work throughout our region, securing a vibrant future for Gulf of Mexico seafood.”

DIGITAL CAMERAShrimp is the largest seafood industry in the state of Louisiana, with a dockside value of $178 million in 2013. However, the inability of LDWF agents to enforce TEDs in state waters has damaged the reputation of the industry in some areas.

“It’s time we get rid of the stigma on the non-enforcement of TEDs, ” said Lance Nacio, owner of Anna Marie Shrimp. “Most shrimpers are already pulling TEDs and what you hear from some NGOs is a misrepresentation of our industry. Whatever a law might say or not say, we’re invested in having a good fishery.”

Kristen Baumer, President of Paul Piazza & Son, Inc. says, “As a major supplier of Louisiana shrimp to foodservice and retail consumers, we are very proud that Louisiana and our fishery has enhanced our commitment to sustainability. This allows the focus to be on educating the U.S. consumer that our wild caught Louisiana shrimp is safe, available, and delicious to eat.”

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