Seafood Watch reevaluates La. shrimp fishery
Louisiana commercial shrimping gear is getting an upgrade now that the state’s governor, Bobby Jindal, has signed a bill into law that will allow the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to mandate that all bottom trawls be equipped with turtle excluder devices (TEDs) moving forward.
The passing of Louisiana House Bill 668 dismantles a previous 1987 state law that prevented La. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents from enforcing federal turtle-excluder device regulations. Endorsed by the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force, the bill will work to prevent unnecessary sea turtle deaths at the grips of shrimp trawls, which are estimated to kill 50,000 turtles annually when not supplemented with TEDs.
"Today is a monumental day for our shrimp industry and will show the world that Louisiana fishermen and processors have always been concerned with the successful management of our shrimp fishery," Mark Abraham, the shrimp task force's chairman, said in a statement on 1 July.
Agents will be able to ensure compliance of the federal TED regulations starting 1 August.
Up until this point, Louisiana had been the only state in the U.S. that barred enforcement of TED regulations, which didn’t bode well for La. shrimpers who saw their products boycotted by retailers after Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch issued an 'avoid' warning to consumers. According to the Oceana environmental group, nearly 13,000 restaurants and stores in the U.S. have refused shrimp from Louisiana due to sustainability concerns.
The Seafood Watch program planned to "immediately reevaluate its assessment of the Louisiana shrimp fishery," when the bill was approved on 1 July, and as of 2 July, placed La. shrimp on the "good alternative" list, as is the case with other shrimp caught in otter trawls off the Gulf of Mexico.
"The new assessment is likely to result in all U.S. shrimp caught by otter trawl in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic being considered a "Good Alternative" option for seafood lovers," Seafood Watch concluded in a statement.