Tuesdays with Turtles – New US Regulations

The National Marine Fisheries Service protects turtles in the US. Here, bycatch, or the accidental capture of adult sea turtles, is one of the biggest causes of adult turtle mortality. So, it is good that the NMFS is bucking all other recent trends with endangered species (check this salon article about the gutting of the endangered species act) and actually proposing stronger regulation on reducing bycatch.

NMFS issues this advance notice of proposed rulemaking to announce that it is considering amendments to the regulatory requirements for turtle excluder devices (TEDs). Specific changes NMFS is considering include increasing the size of the TED escape opening currently required in the summer flounder fishery; requiring the use of TEDs in the flynet, whelk, calico scallop, and Mid- Atlantic sea scallop trawl fisheries; and moving the current northern boundary of the Summer Flounder Fishery-Sea Turtle Protection Area off Cape Charles, Virginia, to a point farther north. The objective of the proposed measures would be to effectively protect all life stages and species of sea turtle in Atlantic trawl fisheries where they are vulnerable to incidental capture and mortality. NMFS is seeking public comment on these potential amendments to the TED regulations. NMFS is also soliciting public comment on the need for, and development and implementation of, other methods to reduce bycatch of sea turtles in anycommercial or recreational fishery in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico where sea turtle conservation measures do not currently exist.

Well, that’s good news, and since I read the whole regulation twice over and did not change my mind about it, it must be good news, really!! Apparently, I write good news stories too!

Sea turtles are lucky to be so accessible, beautiful, completely harmless, long lived and loved, they would not get half the attention they get otherwise!

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