National Fisherman


Skimmer-trawl operators will not be required to outfit their nets with turtle-excluder devices, following research showing that a majority of the endangered reptiles snagged as bycatch in the shallow-water shrimpers' nets were small enough to slip through the contraptions.

"Fifty-eight percent of those turtles were small enough to fit through the current legal size of the bars on TEDs," said Bob Hoffman, chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's endangered species branch. "The legal maximum space between the bars is 4 inches, so more than half of the turtles would possibly fit through that space and go back to the end of the net, thereby not being saved."

TEDs, a grid of bars in a trawl net that allows trapped sea turtles to escape unscathed, are currently required on only certain types of boats, including otter trawls, which trail nets from the rear of the boat along the ocean floor. Skimmer trawls, which drag nets off the sides in shallower water, have thus far been exempt from the rule.

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Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

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