Date: October 14, 2005
Contact: Gary Appelson
Phone: (352) 373-6441
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is currently gathering comments to determine how to better manage its commercial shrimp fishery. Comments can be offered through an on-line survey. The survey is complicated and appears to be bias towards commercial shrimp interests. It is critical that people concerned abut sea turtle conservation have a say in this process and submit comments through the survey’s “additional comments” field (#17).
STC has for years been involved in the national effort to reduce the number of sea turtles incidentally caught and killed in commercial shrimp nets pulled behind shrimp trawlers. Commercial shrimping off the coast of Georgia and the United States is big business. During shrimping season shrimp boats can be seen lining the horizon off the coast of Georgia. Commercial shrimpers in US waters are now required to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), trap doors designed to help turtles escape from a net. However, the large number of shrimp boats combined with TED enforcement and design problems still result in large numbers of turtles being caught in shrimp nets. Dead turtles washing up on shore in Georgia often correspond with the opening of shrimp season.
The primary threat to the recovery of the northern loggerhead sea turtle population in Georgia remains commercial shrimp trawling. Georgia’s nesting northern loggerhead population is in steady long-term decline, with nesting numbers declining about 2% annually! In addition, sea turtles that nest in Florida migrate through and forage in Georgia waters. Although TEDs are known to reduce trawler related sea turtle deaths, additional conservation measures are needed to protect loggerhead sea turtle populations.
The first steps should be to reduce the overall number of shrimp boats in Georgia waters and to restrict the areas and times open to shrimp trawling.
Please go to http://crd.dnr.state.ga.us/ and follow the “Shrimp Management Survey” link on the far right. (Survey is now closed.)
Scroll down the survey to Number 17 to express your concern for the long term protection and recovery of sea turtle populations in Georgia and the US. State that shrimping is a major threat to sea turtles. Sea turtles face many threats and one we can alleviate is the incidental capture in shrimp nets.
Sample comments for Number 17 (put into your own words):
Shrimp trawling is the single greatest threat to the recovery of sea turtle populations in Georgia. The historically large number of shrimp trawlers in Georgia waters has long posed a threat to Georgia’s turtle population, which is declining. In addition, turtles from Florida and the Carolinas migrate through and forage in Georgia waters. So shrimping in Georgia impacts turtles from other states.
I strongly support restrictions on the Georgia shrimp fishery to ensure the long term protection of threatened and endangered sea turtles. Please institute a limited entry system to reduce the overall number of shrimp boats in Georgia. This is the best way to control the overall time of “net hours” and fishing effort. In addition maintain the existing prohibition against shrimp trawling in the ecologically sensitive estuaries and restrict the areas and times open to shrimp trawling.
Thanks for your help!