Excluder Device Exemptions Extended
to ongoing debris problems associated with Hurricanes Katrina
and Rita, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has
authorized a temporary extension exempting shrimp trawlers
from federal Turtle Excluder Device (TED) requirements in
certain state and federal waters off Alabama, Mississippi,
Louisiana and Texas.
trawlers fishing in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas
waters from the Florida-Alabama state line westward to the
boundary shared by Matagorda and Brazoria counties in Texas
and extending 50 nautical miles offshore are now exempt from
federal TED requirements through Nov. 23, 2005. In lieu of
TEDs, this authorization requires shrimp trawlers to restrict
tow times to 55 minutes until Oct. 31 and 75 minutes thereafter.
Tow times are measured from the time trawl doors enter the
water until they are retrieved from the water according to
from federal TED requirements is valid through 11:59 p.m.
on Nov. 23, 2005, unless otherwise extended by NMFS. Federal
regulations provide for the use of limited tow times as an
alternative to the use of TEDs if determined "that the
presence of debris or other special environmental conditions
in a particular area makes trawling with TED-equipped nets
impracticable." The NMFS had earlier authorized a 30-day
TED exemption affecting certain state and federal waters off
Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina
and a later exemption affecting remaining Louisiana and adjacent
federal waters westward to the Matagorda and Brazoria County
line in Texas following Hurricane Rita.
NMFS encourages shrimp trawlers in the affected areas to continue
to use TEDs if possible. NMFS studies have shown that the
problem of clogging by seagrass, algae, or by other debris
is not unique to TED-equipped nets. When fishermen trawl in
problem areas, they may experience clogging with or without
TEDs. Shrimp trawlers who continue to use legal TEDs in the
affected areas do not have to limit their tow times. However,
shrimpers choosing to use tow-time limitations may not simply
sew the TED flaps shut; they must remove the TEDs from the
continue to monitor debris problems. If monitoring indicates
that debris is no longer a problem, then this authorization
may be shortened. If debris continues to be a problem after
the dates above, this authorization may be extended. Fishermen
should monitor NOAA weather radio for announcements or contact
the NMFS Southeast Regional Office at 727-824-5312.
shrimp fishermen and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and
Fisheries marine fisheries biologists have reported the presence
of large amounts of storm related debris throughout the impacted
area. This debris primarily consists not only of man-made
debris, but matted grasses, rooted clumps of marsh vegetation,
Roseau cane and branches uprooted and displaced by the storm.
The debris has severely impacted both shrimp catch and TED
performance and has damaged fishing gear as well.