October 10, 2013 — The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program has “red listed” shrimp caught in Louisiana state waters. The state stands alone among Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic states in the enforcement of the federal requirements to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), which according to studies have proved effective in reducing sea turtle deaths and allowing their populations to begin a slow recovery.
Turtle excluder devices enable sea turtles, and other bycatch, caught in fishing nets to escape through special openings. Turtles sometimes are swept up into the fine mesh of a shrimper’s net and drown when unable to escape.
Under a 1987 state law backed by the Louisiana Shrimp Association, Louisiana officials are forbidden from enforcing TED requirements.
In 2010, as the Deepwater Horizon incident unfolded, a bill was put before Gov. Bobby Jindal to repealed the prohibition of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement of federal turtle excluder device laws for fishermen in state’s waters.
Introduced by Representative Eddie Lambert, House Bill 1334 passed both houses with little opposition but never made it off the governor’s desk.
“Avoid” Listing Solely on Harvesting Techniques
The Seafood Watch rating categories include: Super Green – Healthy for People and Oceans, Green – Best Choices, Yellow – Good Alternatives and Red – Avoid. Currently all Gulf shrimp is rated yellow. The new “red listing” for Louisiana landed shrimp will mean “Avoid: Take a pass on this items for now. They are caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment.”
The new listing by Seafood Watch is not based on sustainability, but solely on harvesting practices. The failure of many Louisiana shrimpers to use TED’s, resulting in the “Avoid” listing by Seafood Watch may damage public perception of Louisiana caught shrimp, as well as result in the loss of millions of dollars for state businesses.
During the past three years environmental groups have negotiated with various Louisiana state agencies and officials to try to implement a bycatch law. The state has yet to find an effective way to address concerns satisfying all parties involved.
Read the full story at Saving Seafood>>