Right now, in Louisiana, this practice continues to rapidly kill sea turtles. Governor Bobby Jindal has allowed fisherman in his state to simply ignore the federal requirement that shrimp nets contain turtle escape hatches. Rather than allowing sea turtles that are erroneously trapped within shrimp nets a chance to escape, he has enforced this law—even when given a chance to repeal it—and allowed who knows how many sea turtles to die within shrimp trawl nets as a result.
More than 80 scientists have since come forth and asked that the state repeal this law. It’s not only a slap in the face to the rest of the country’s fishing industries, which follow the law and at least try to help reduce the numbers of sea turtles who die in shrimp traps—it’s also a pretty heartless move in general. Why not save a life when you’re provided such a simple way to do so? It’s not as if people are demanding that the shrimp industry be ended altogether (and we could certainly argue valid reasons for it to be); we’re simply asking that a small way out be provided for sea turtles who are trapped in the nets.
After the current nets in the state that are being used were inspected, it was discovered that most of the escape hatches for turtles were sewn shut—and the ones that were being used were not installed properly. In fact, some of them were installed in ways that would actually trap sea turtles or kill them altogether! This makes one think that all of the nets in the country should require inspecting—and that perhaps someone should take the time in Louisiana to show fisherman how the escape unit should be installed in the first place.
Please click here to ask Governor Jindal to reconsider his law. Tens of thousands of sea turtles who live in the Gulf of Mexico rely on these escape hatches to save them from death. Without them, the turtles trapped within the nets will surely drown, resulting in wasteful bycatch and further depletion of our already at-risk turtle populations.