NOAA Fisheries is publishing a temporary rule to allow shrimp fishers to continue to use limited tow times as an alternative to Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs).
According to LDWF, the use will be in specific Louisiana state waters from 91° 23’ West longitude eastward to the Louisiana/Mississippi border, and seaward out three nautical miles. The temporary rule is effective from December 7, 2021 through January 5, 2022.
In the areas specified, LDWF says fishers may tow without TEDs installed no more than 75 minutes, as measured from the time that the trawl doors enter the water until they are removed from the water. This tow time limit is designed to minimize the level of mortality of sea turtles that are captured by trawl nets not equipped with TEDs, they say.
Officials report that continuing NOAA Fisheries investigations determined debris from Hurricane Ida is impeding fisher’s ability to use TEDs effectively in the aforementioned waters.
NOAA Fisheries is encouraging fishers in the affected area to continue to use TEDs if they can do so effectively, even though they are authorized under this action to use restricted tow times.
"NOAA Fisheries studies have shown that the problem of clogging by seagrass, algae, or by other debris is not unique to TED-equipped nets. When fishers trawl in problem areas, they may experience clogging with or without TEDs. Fishers that continue to use legal TEDs in the affected area do not have to limit their tow times. However, fishers choosing to use tow-time limitations may not simply sew the TED flaps shut; they must remove the TEDs from the trawls," they say.
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