NewsCovering Louisiana


Judge's order delays implementation of Turtle Exclusion Devices for vessels

Sea Turtles Are Thriving Now That Humans Are Stuck Inside
Posted at 2:52 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 16:12:25-04

A US District Judge has granted a motion from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for a preliminary injunction on the federal Turtle Exclusion Devices for some vessels.

LDWF says the order delays implementation of the requirements of TEDs in skimmer vessels 40 feet in length or greater in Louisiana inshore waters until February 1, 2022. The motion for the injunction was granted on September 9, 2021.

LDWF says that on December 20, 2019, the Final Rule was published requiring skimmer vessels 40 feet in length or greater to have an approved TED installed by April 1, 2021. In March 2021, NOAA delayed implementation of the Rule to August 1, 2021 due to a lack of outreach and availability of TEDs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April 2021, NOAA released an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to require TEDs on all skimmer vessels, regardless of vessel length.

LDWF and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission then sent a letter of opposition for the proposed rule and further stated opposition for the delayed rule.

LDWF says that the letter stated that evidence did not suggest the need for requiring TEDs in skimmer vessels operating in Louisiana territorial waters and urged NOAA to reverse the delayed TED regulations for larger skimmer vessels or to designate Louisiana waters as an exclusion zone from any TED rules based on bycatch evidence indicating limited interactions with sea turtles.

In August 2021, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office filed suit on behalf of the Department against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Commerce challenging the Rule mandating TEDs in skimmer vessels.

Officials state that while the merits of the case have not been fully adjudicated, a judge's order has granted "temporary relief for the shrimp industry" by delaying implementation of the federal requirement of TED by six months, until February 1, 2022.

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