Target: National Marine Fisheries Service
Goal: Pass new rule that will save sea turtles from drowning in shrimp trawling nets.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed a new rule that will require all shrimp trawling nets to be equipped with escape hatches for trapped sea turtles. This rule was initially proposed in 2012, but it was rescinded when the NMFS learned that the rule would not stop small sea turtles from getting stuck. Now, after four years of study, the new rule proposes smaller spaces between the bars of the shrimp nets, which will protect baby sea turtles. The rule will apply mainly to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, the states that are home to the largest shrimp fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to Oceana, approximately 53,000 sea turtles are killed by shrimp trawling each year, and shrimp trawling is by far the biggest threat to turtles. Turtle-excluder devices could save up to 2,500 sea turtles a year, helping to rebuild their dwindling population.
The proposed law would also be beneficial to shrimp fishermen. Right now, many types of shrimp caught in the Gulf of Mexico are red-listed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program because of how many turtles are accidentally killed. Currently, 13,000 restaurants and stores refuse to stock shrimp that is red-listed. If the proposed turtle-excluder device rule goes through, the Gulf of Mexico fisheries will most likely be taken off of the red-list, opening up new markets for them.
Requiring all shrimp trawls to have turtle-excluder devices will prevent the deaths of thousands of turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. Sign this petition to tell the NMFS that you’re in support of its new proposed rule.
Dear National Marine Fisheries Service,
I’m writing in support of the proposed rule to require all shrimp trawls to have turtle-excluder devices. Approximately 500,000 sea turtles get caught in shrimp nets each year, and 53,000 of them die. Turtle-excluder devices could prevent 2,500 of those needless deaths every year.
Turtle-excluder devices could also have a positive effective for the shrimping industry in the Gulf of Mexico. Because of how many turtles are killed, many of the major shrimp fisheries in the area are red-listed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program. This results in the fisheries not being able to sell their shrimp to thousands of stores and restaurants. After a few years of using turtle-excluder devices, these fisheries may be taken off the red-list, allowing them to sell their shrimp more widely.
Your proposed rule is the right choice for the sea turtles of the Gulf of Mexico. For the good of the sea turtles that lose their lives to the shrimp industry, please pass the turtle-excluder device rule.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region