Date: May 31, 2002
Contact: David Godfrey
Phone: (352) 373-6441
For well over a year the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has been studying, revising, and negotiating a rule to modify the existing regulations governing the usage of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDS). TEDS allow sea turtles to escape from the large nets pulled by shrimping trawlers, thereby preventing them from drowning in the nets. One major purpose of the new rule, among other things, is to require larger openings in TEDS. The current opening size is clearly to small to allow adequate numbers of the larger, mature turtles to escape. Every year, as the rule making process drags on, more turtles drown in shrimp nets. STC has been actively working to convince NMFS to move forward with rule making. One proposal is to delay the implementation of the new larger TEDS for up to a year after the rule is finalized, to allow the shrimping industry to “adjust.” STC provided comments to NMFS strongly opposing such a condition.
As a recent news story (see side bar at left) clearly shows, every year that the federal government delays implementing the new rules more turtles will die. In response to the current record stranding in Georgia, the NMFS quickly issued a temporary emergency rule requiring that shrimp boats in Federal waters must have the larger TED openings. The emergency rule will be in place for the next 30 days.
The latest guess for finalization and implementation of the new TED rules is sometime around August. The public comment period for this rule making process closed late last year. However, you can send a letter supporting the rule making process and opposing any more delays in the final rule’s implementation, you can write to:
Mr. Don Knowles, Chief
Endangered Species Division
Office of Protected Resources
National Marine Fisheries Service
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, Md. 20910