In 2009, NMFS conducted an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and held public scoping meetings on the impact of proposed implementation of new sea turtle regulations in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico trawl fisheries. The SSA submitted comments regarding the proposed plan on behalf of the U.S. shrimp industry and attended key scoping meetings.
These requirements are expected to affect primarily trawl fisheries that do not use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) to protect threatened and endangered sea turtles in the western Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. NMFS recognizes that “Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) have been proven to be an effective method to minimize adverse effects related to sea turtle bycatch in the shrimp trawl fishery” and is using shrimpers as an example of how TEDs can help eliminate unintentional catches of sea turtles. Nevertheless, the SSA is increasingly concerned that NMFS intends to propose a requirement to use TEDs in shrimp ‘try nets’ and will be working to address that issue in 2010.