Subject: Case Study: Shrimpers, environmentalists s (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Thu, 1 Aug 1996 11:26:48 -0400 (EDT)

What is the problem between commercial fishing and turtles? 
What solutions might you suggest?


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 1 Aug 96 11:23:00 UTC 0000
Subject: Shrimpers, environmentalists s

Shrimpers, environmentalists still fighting

   GALVESTON, Texas (UPI) -- The number of endangered Kemp's ridley sea
turtles hatched on beaches in south Texas and Mexico is on the increase,
but the war between shrimpers and some environmentalists wages on
   The recent opening of the Texas shrimping season renewed the annual
debate as shrimpers and environmentalists argued about the meanings of
statistics on shrimpers' compliance with federal regulations and on sea
turtle standings.
   Environmentalists blamed shrimpers for the death of sea turtles, but
shrimpers denied blame and said they are doing their part to protect the
   Meanwhile, both sides agree with scientists that the number of turtle
nests and hatchlings is on the upswing although environmentalists are
calling for additional safeguards to which shrimpers object.
   Scientists report hatchlings of the Kemp's ridley reached an 18-year
high in 1995 at the beaches of Rancho Nuevo, Mexico,with more than 120,
000 hatchlings and 1,930 nests counted.
   Rancho Nuevo, located on the east coast of Mexico, is the traditional
and the only major nesting ground for Kemp's ridley turtles. But
scientists reported progress this year at Padre Island National Seashore
in south Texas.
   Donna Shaver, a National Biological Service biologist, reported 370
eggs hatched this year at Padre Island, which is being established as a
secondary nesting colony.
   In the past 17 years, only seven confirmed Kemp's ridley turtle nests
were found at Padre Island. This year, Shaver confirmed five Kemp's
ridley nests, including two left by specially marked females.
   The marked females were turtles that had been released in the 1980s
as part of an experiment. Eggs gathered from Mexico were brought to
Texas and packed in sand from Padre Island to imprint them to the Texas
   The return of the two adult females showed the experiment is working,
Shaver said.
   Carole Allen of Houston, founder of Help Endangered Animals-Ridley
Turtles or HEART, and the Houston Audubon Society are calling for the
state waters off the Padre Island National Sea Shore to be permanently
closed to shrimping.
   "It makes good sense to protect the mature turtles coming back to
nest," Allen said. "Every turtle in the Gulf is at risk because some
shrimpers laugh at the law, and others can't install the turtle excluder
devices properly. The National Seashore waters should be closed to
shrimping," Allen said.
   "We hope all shrimpers will cooperate by not fishing in the area of
Padre Island National Seashore." said Page Williams, vice president of
environmental affairs for the Houston Audubon Society.
   Wilma Anderson, executive director of the Texas Shrimp Association,
said a ban of shrimping off Padre Island is unwarranted, adding Kemp's
ridley turtles sporadically nest all along the Gulf coast and the
Atlantic shore.
   "These turtles come in and out," Anderson said, adding that
shrimpers are in high compliance with federal rules to protect sea
   U.S. Coast Guard figures from 1995 showed 96.9 percent of shrimp
trawlers inspected were in compliance with turtle excluder devices or
TEDs installed in their nets.
   The other 3 percent was for technical violations, like equipment
failure or improper installation, the Coast Guard said.
   TEDs allow sea turtles accidentally caught in the nets to escape
without harm back into the sea. Federal law has required the use of TEDs
for several years.
   But Allen questions the validity of the Coast Guard statistics,
saying shrimpers tell each other by radio of the Coast Guard inspectors'
whereabouts so most inspections are not a surprise boarding.
   Allen suggested some shrimpers use small pieces of rope to block the
openings in their nets until the Coast Guard shows up. The small rope
can easily be removed before the inspection, she said.
   "With a Coast Guard ship in sight, we suspect all shrimpers are in
compliance; however, the Coast Guard has many duties and only five
National Marine Fisheries Service Law enforcement agents are exclusively
assigned to check over 20,000 shrimping vessels for TEDs," Allen said.
   Anderson questioned why Allen doubts Coast Guard statistics, calling
her accusations against shrimpers, "the same old antics."
   "Our industry is proud of the fact that the entire Gulf of Mexico
shrimp fleet has TEDs installed in their nets. The Coast Guard and the
shrimp industry will continue to work together to see that shrimp boats
are doing their part to protect the sea turtle," Anderson said.
   But Allen and the San Francisco-based Earth Island last week blamed
the Texas shrimp industry for the continuing deaths of sea turtles.
   Statistics from the Sea Turtle Stranding Network showed 14 sea
turtles were found dead in Texas waters between July 15 and July 20.
Only two of them were Kemp's ridleys. Ten of them were loggerhead
turtles, a threatened species, one was a green sea turtle and the
species of one sea turtle could not be identified.
   Lee Weddig, executive vice president of the National Fisheries
Institute, said turtle strandings are inevitable despite the best of
safeguards by shrimpers. His trade association represents the fish and
seafood industry.
   "It's important to note that without question, despite all these
efforts, some sea turtles are going to continue to wash up on the Gulf
coast and south Atlantic shores.
   "That's the unfortunate reality, but it's also reality that
pollution, dredging, power plant water intake, ship traffic, other
fishing operations, oil and gas exploration and beachfront development
all contribute to this phenomenon," Weddig said.
   Earth Island spokesman Todd Steiner supported Allen's call for a
permanent shrimping closure off Padre Island National Seashore.
   He also called upon shrimpers to sign contracts with Earth Island
agreeing to a monitoring program urtle-Safe shrimp, we will reward those
shrimpers who
are working to protect the sea turtles, and hopefully encourage other
fishers to follow suit, thus saving thousands of sea turtles from
drowning for our shrimp dinner," Steiner said.
   Previously, Earth Island led the boycott against the tuna-fishing
industry to protect dolphins. So far, only shrimpers in Georgia have
signed. We do not need
HEART and Earth Island running the Gulf of Mexico shrimp industry,"
Anderson said.