Cochran, Wicker support NOAA decision on ‘turtle excluder devices’

U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker said Wednesday they supported a federal decision not to require some shrimpers to use turtle excluder devices.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’ on Tuesday said it would not require the devices, which had been intended to prevent endangered sea turtles from being killed. The Associated Press reported a NOAA official’s explanation of the decision as boiling down to a conclusion that “the conservation benefit does not justify the burden this rule would place on the industry.”

The devices would have been required for small fishing operations that trawl for shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico. The devices, billed as escape hatches for sea turtles, may not help small turtles in the shallower waters that would have been subject to the rules, the AP reported. NOAA wants to find alternative solutions to the problem.

Cochran and Wicker said they supported the decision NOAA reached, especially because they believed the regulations would have placed expensive burdens on about 2,600 Gulf of Mexico shrimpers in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

Sun Herald