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Twenty-six conservation groups are calling for the repeal of a 24-year-old law in Louisiana which prohibits state wildlife agents to implement a federal law that require trap-doors for turtles in shrimp net.
The law, which was passed in 1987, states that Louisiana will not enforce the federal law until a thorough and scientific test is performed on turtle excluder devices.
The rules were bitterly fought by shrimpers across the Gulf of Mexico, saying that they stand to lose up to 40% of their catch in a business characterized by slim margins. During a protest way back in1989, ports located along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana were blocked by hundreds of shrimp boats.
In a press release Monday, Carole Allen, the Gulf director of SeaTurtles.org, said, “Louisiana needs to show respect for the Endangered Species Act and sea turtle protections that Congress put in place. The image of Louisiana as well as its marine resources and fishermen will benefit, as TEDs have proven their value and their effectiveness in all the other Gulf states over the decades.”
For the part of Jeff Dorson, the director of the Humane Society of Louisiana, he said, “It’s time our state joined the 21st century. I believe our law enforcement officers want to stop sea turtles from drowning in shrimp trawls but our old state law won’t let them. We need to change that.”
Conservation groups say years of research have shown that turtles drown in trawls that do not have TEDs. They also said that the devices only cost 3% of their shrimp catch, but has been proven to be effective in keeping the turtles from drowning.