Dear Mr. Barnette:
I strongly support the proposed rule to require all currently exempted shrimp boats using skimmer trawls, pusher-head trawls, and wing net (butterfly trawls) to use Turtle Excluder Devises (TEDs), which are 97 percent effective at saving sea turtles.
Sea turtles are beautiful, majestic creatures that have played a vital role in maintaining the health of the world’s oceans for more than 100 million years. Unfortunately, every year thousands of endangered and threatened sea turtles drown in shrimp trawl nets in the Southeast Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Luckily, this common-sense solution would protect up to 2,500 sea turtles each year. This proposed rule will not only benefit sea turtles, but will also reduce bycatch of other commercially valuable species. Recent research has shown that the proposed TEDs could reduce unwanted fish bycatch, meaning that shrimp fishermen can focus on their target species - shrimp.
In addition, shrimp from the southeast skimmer trawl fishery is the only U.S. shrimp fishery red-listed by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program due to the lack of a TED requirement. 13,000 restaurants and stores closely follow Seafood Watch’s recommendations, which analyze the sustainability of seafood products. If a TED requirement is put in place, it is likely that shrimp caught by skimmer trawls will no longer be “red-listed,” allowing fishermen to sell their shrimp to additional markets in the U.S. The proposed rule is not only good for sea turtles but is also good for fish and fishermen. By taking these actions, you can save thousands of sea turtles and fish each year and expand the role of the United States as a leader in fishery management. I urge you to finalize this rule as soon as possible.