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Louisiana Enforces Turtle-Escape Device for Shrimp Nets

Jul 10, 2015 01:58 PM EDT

The ongoing relationship between commercial fishing and marine life probably improved greatly earlier this week, when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed Louisiana House Bill 668 into law, legislation that could save thousands of sea turtle lives.

Louisiana's bill repeals a 1987 state ban on the enforcement of a federal statute that requires trawling shrimp boats to equip their nets with turtle excluder devices (TEDs), which allow turtles to escape drowning via a turtle-size hatch in the net.  

The bill's text reads in part, "Present law prohibits the enforcement in state waters of federal regulations that require the use of turtle excluder devices in shrimp trawls until certain conditions and data can be determined and verified."

By one estimate, the Southeast Shrimp Trawl Fishery, which includes Louisiana's Gulf Coast shrimp industry, is responsible for more than 50,000 sea turtle deaths annually. 

"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," said Oceana Fisheries Campaign Manager Gib Brogan, according to the release above.

Until today, Louisiana was the only state that prohibited its fishery agents from enforcing federal requirements.

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