Shrimpers' nets have been coming up completely full of debris. The picture on the right shows a net with TED.(Photo: Louisiana Seafood News/Wikipedia)
Louisiana seeking temporary exemption from TEDs
Friday, October 05, 2012, 01:00 (GMT + 9)
Louisiana’s congressional delegation is seeking a temporary exemption from turtle excluder devices (TED) by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The delegation argues that the state’s shrimping community should get a break given its ongoing recovery from Hurricane Isaac.
In two letters sent to Dr Jane Lubchenco, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and administrator of NOAA, the Washington delegation is asking her for a “temporary exemption from federal TED requirements for inland and offshore shrimp trawlers.” The letters were signed by members including Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, as well as House Members Cedric Richmond, Jeff Landry and John Fleming, MD.
Shrimpers are fighting the impact of debris left by the hurricane, which is severely harming this year’s shrimp harvest by limiting the effectiveness of TED devices and reducing catches.
Congress has stated a general opposition to TED requirements. A bipartisan majority approved a House Amendment for a prohibition on TED enforcement.
“If Congress believes that TEDs should not be required during the best of times, they should not be required as shrimpers try to salvage what is left of their hurricane-shortened season,” the Louisiana delegation stated.
|Map of Louisiana fishing communities affected by Hurricane Isaac. (Illustration: GCR, Inc.)
During meetings on Capitol Hill last month, the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board asked the congressional delegation to educate NOAA about the importance of temporary exemptions for TEDs.
“During our meetings on Capitol Hill, we had significant support from the Louisiana legislators in relaxing TED requirements for shrimpers due to the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac,” said Mike Voisin, chairperson of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force. “We also received support for the issue from those representing other Gulf States as well.”
Pete Gerica, president of the Lake Pontchartrain Fishermen’s Association, said that at least 75 per cent of the TEDs in Louisiana are being affected by debris – a figure worse than after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
“This impact will last approximately three months until the winter storms can help dissipate the debris,” said Gerica. “Right now, shrimpers cannot work at all. They’ve been dropping test nets, which have been coming up completely full of debris.”
Remarkably, openings in the TEDs are getting jammed so quickly that bycatch are unable to escape.
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By Natalia Real