FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Chris Smith
The National Marine Fisheries Service is extending the public comment period on its proposal to modify turtle excluder devices (TEDs) to better protect endangered sea turtles caught in shrimp nets, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today. The initial comment period on this proposal expired on Nov. 16, 2001. The comment period is being extended to Feb. 15, 2002. The modifications, which would apply throughout the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, would affect shrimp fishermen in both state and federal waters.
"We heard from fishermen and others who asked for more time to provide input on these proposed changes to the TED rule," said Bill Hogarth, director of NOAA Fisheries. "Our goal is to save more sea turtles while also reducing the regulatory burden on shrimp fishermen. During the extended comment period, NOAA Fisheries will further evaluate the proposed changes and will conduct more detailed evaluations of turtle distribution and shrimp trawl data."
The proposed rule, which includes an increase in size of the escape opening, will help larger sea turtles escape from trawls. The rule would amend regulations governing the types of TEDs allowed and certain other aspects of TEDs. Proposed changes include:
Fishermen have pointed out some technical concerns regarding the proposed increase in the size of the TED grid measurements, which NOAA Fisheries will correct.
Eight public hearings about this proposed rule were held throughout the Southeast Region from Oct. 24 through Nov. 8, 2001.
Written comments should be sent to: NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources, Attn: Chief, Endangered Species Division,1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282. Comments may also be faxed to 301-713-0376.
*Specifications for these TEDs are posted on the Internet at: http://caldera.sero.nmfs.gov/fishery/pannounc.gen/protann.001/nr01-033.htm.
Printed copies of the specifications are
available from NOAA Fisheries at the above address or by calling