NMFS Withdraws Proposed Rule for Sea Turtle Protection

Written by on February 8, 2013 in Policy & Ocean Law, Sea Turtles
Loggerhead Turtle escaping a net equipped with turtle excluder device (TED).

Loggerhead Turtle escaping a net equipped with turtle excluder device (TED). Photo credit: NOAA.

Yesterday, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) withdrew a proposed rule that would have required Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) on all skimmer trawl shrimp boats in the southeastern United States.

Sea turtles often get caught in fishing nets and many of them drown. TEDs allow sea turtles to escape from these nets and are estimated to save around 2,000 turtles every year.

The NMFS has withdrawn the rule based on claims that it would not be able to fully implement and monitor the requirements. Instead, they are implementing a 55-minute time limit on the amount of time a net can be towed in order to lessen turtle drowning incidents. Oceana, the largest conservation organization working solely to protect the world’s oceans, has expressed their disappointment in this decision.

“NMFS has turned its back on sea turtles, a species they are supposed to protect,” said Oceana Northeast representative Gib Brogan. “Through their own analysis, it’s estimated that five sea turtles are killed every day in skimmer trawl fisheries. To blame the back-tracking of this proposal on the agency’s inability to enforce rules is outrageous.”

“Sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act, which requires NMFS to take action in the face of this clear problem,” Brogan said. “Oceana is exploring our options for ways to require immediate changes to decrease turtle mortality, while also looking at longer-term solutions.”

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Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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