Now the National Marine Fisheries Service and the NationalOceanic and Atmospheric Association propose withdrawing an exemption for several different types of shrimp vessels. That would mean all skimmer trawls, pusher-head trawls, and wing nets (butterfly trawls) would also be required to use TEDs while trawling for shrimp. According to Oceana, Less than half of the U.S. shrimp fleet is currently required to use TEDs; however, this proposed rule would extend the requirement to about 5,800 other boats in the region currently exempted. The fisheries service announced the proposed rules Thursday. They will be subject to a public comment process through mid-February.More shrimp fishermen would have to use nets equipped with turtle escape hatches, to prevent sea turtle deaths, under proposed new federal rules. The bulk of the affected types of shrimp boats are in the Gulf, especially in the panhandle of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Thursday was the deadline for the federal government to propose regulations to protect turtles under a settlement with the conservation nonprofitOceana. Oceana campaign director Lora Snyder released the following statement in response to the newly proposed rule: Oceana commends the Obama administration for taking this historic step to protect sea turtles in U.S. waters, which has been decades in the making. With the simple solution of requiring shrimp boats in the Southeast to use TEDs, we would dramatically improve the survival and recovery prospects of sea turtle populations, as well as protect the livelihoods of thousands of American shrimp fishermen who lose markets and profits due to the red-listing of their products. Currently, 13,000 restaurants and stores across the United States refuse to source shrimp that are red-listed by the Monterey Bay Aquariums Seafood Watch program, which analyzes the sustainability of seafood products. It is likely that by requiring TEDs in these vessels, this red-listing would be lifted, thereby opening new markets to U.S. shrimpers.
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