Endangered Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle could live 30 to 50 years
July 6, 2012 Contact: Evelyn Merz at email@example.com
SEA TURTLES NEED YOUR HELP –
JULY 9TH @10:59 pm CST
You can help save endangered sea turtles, including the endangered
Kemp’s Ridley that nests in Texas, by commenting on a newly
proposed rule that would require Turtle Excluder Devices
(TEDs) to be used by shrimpers using skimmer trawls, pusher
head trawls, and wing net (butterfly trawl) vessels.
This new rule is long overdue and would close a loophole that is contributing to the deaths of sea turtles.
Please act quickly because the deadline
for comments is Monday, July 9th at 10:59 PM Central Standard
Time. You can send comments either electronically
or via fax.
BACKGROUND ALL sea turtles in U.S. waters are either endangered or threatened. The current rule allows shrimpers using skimmer trawls in most southeastern states to restrict tow times to 55 or 75 minutes (depending upon the season) instead of using TEDs. Theoretically, the restricted tow time would allow shrimpers to free sea turtles trapped in the net before they drowned. But the tow time requirement is difficult to enforce and there is evidence that trawlers do not comply with the requirement.
Although the federal rule would apply to fishing operations in both state and federal waters from Texas to North Carolina, the rule would in practice affect only Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and North Carolina. Skimmer net trawls are not allowed in Texas and Florida requires the use of TEDs.
In 2010, there were 644 strandings of sea turtles in Louisiana,
Mississippi, and Alabama. Of the total, 561 or 87% were Kemp’s
Ridley sea turtles.
In 2011, there were 525 strandings of sea turtles Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Of the total, 390 or 86% were Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.
POINTS TO MAKE IN YOUR COMMENTS
Be sure to include:
I support the proposed rule 0648-BC10 by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)/NOAA to require skimmer trawls, pusher-head trawls, and wing net (butterfly trawl) vessels to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in their nets.
Other points you can include:
The tow time requirement of 55 or 75 minutes (depending upon the season) is difficult to enforce and there is evidence that trawlers do not comply with the requirement.
The tow time restriction is ineffective in preventing the stranding and drowning of sea turtles via incidental bycatch of southeastern shrimp fisheries.
Requiring the use of TEDS in the subject trawling operations would have a significant effect on reducing bycatch and sea turtle mortality.
If TEDs are used properly, data indicates a reduction of bycatch up to 60% and a release rate for sea turtles of 97%.
Skimmer net trawls are not allowed in Texas and Florida requires the use of TEDs.
Certainly, if Texas and Florida fisheries can operate within guidelines that preserve sea turtles, so can the Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and North Carolina.
There is a major program in Texas to increase the population of Kemp’s ridley sea turtles via encouraging nesting at Padre Island National Seashore on the Texas Gulf Coast.
The program is being undercut by the actions of neighboring Gulf states.
A comprehensive turtle restoration project should include protecting turtle populations during all life stages.