Conservation & Science

Louisiana steps up for sea turtles, sustainable seafood

The Monterey Bay Aquarium commends the State of Louisiana for acting to improve the sustainability of its shrimp fishery and helping protect sea turtles. Newly enacted legislation enables state wildlife officials to enforce federal rules that require shrimp fishermen to outfit their otter trawl nets with escape hatches for sea turtles (known as Turtle Excluder Devices or TEDs). The new law officially ends a ban on state enforcement of this important ocean conservation measure – a ban that has been in place since 1987.

Fresh shrimp ready for sorting. Seafood Watch is reassessing the sustainability of Louisiana shrimp caught by otter trawl now that a new law permits state enforcement of Turtle Excluder Devices. Courtesy Gulf Seafood Institute.

Sea turtles found in U.S. waters are considered endangered or threatened, and TEDs help prevent the animals from being accidentally caught and killed as bycatch in shrimp nets. Louisiana law previously prohibited enforcement of this critical measure, putting sea turtles at risk.

“Louisiana now joins all other Gulf fisheries – from the Carolinas to Texas – where use of Turtle Excluder Devices has been effective in reducing impacts on sea turtles,” said Margaret Spring, vice president of conservation and science for the Aquarium. “Conscientious shrimp fishermen in Louisiana who have been using TEDs will now be recognized and rewarded in the same manner as their peers in other states for contributing to sea turtle recovery.”

“We congratulate the State of Louisiana for supporting compliance with strong federal management policies that require TEDs,” she added.

Because of the state’s enforcement ban, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program had been unable to recommend Louisiana shrimp – even when fisherman voluntarily complied with federal regulations.

In light of the state’s action, Seafood Watch will immediately reevaluate its assessment of the Louisiana shrimp fishery. The new assessment is likely to result in all U.S. shrimp caught by otter trawl in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic being considered a “Good Alternative” option for seafood lovers.

Repeal of the TED enforcement ban was supported by Louisiana’s industry-led Shrimp Task Force, and was passed unanimously by both houses of the state legislature.

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