NEW ORLEANS – More shrimp fishermen would have to use nets equipped with turtle escape hatches, to prevent sea turtle deaths, under proposed new federal rules.
The National Marine Fisheries Service wants to require more shrimp fishermen to use "turtle excluder devices." The devices are metal grates that allow turtles to escape the boats' nets.
The fisheries service announced the proposed rules Thursday. They will be subject to a public comment process through mid-February.
Thursday was the deadline for the federal government to propose regulations to protect turtles under a settlement with the conservation nonprofit Oceana.
Oceana sued the government in April 2015, arguing that government estimates indicate that more than 500,000 sea turtles get caught in shrimp nets each year, and more than 53,000 of them die.