Shrimpers May Be Killing Turtles: Feds

Shortcuts ahead of oil slick could have caused 3 dozen deaths
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2010 4:32 PM CDT
A dead sea turtle lies on the beach in Pass Christian, Miss., Sunday, May 2, 2010.   (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
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(Newser) – About 3 dozen endangered sea turtles have washed up on Gulf Coast beaches in recent days—with no trace of oil—and the mysterious deaths have triggered a spat between federal authorities and shrimp fishermen. Marine officials suspect that fishermen, desperate to maximize their catch before the oil slick moves in, have taken devices off their nets that protect the turtles, reports AP. The feds are investigating.

Shrimpers use a "turtle excluder device" to allow Kemp's ridley sea turtles to escape—but the devices inevitably let shrimp out, too, decreasing the average catch by about 20%. One third-generation fisherman calls the rumors "bull, straight bull." The fines from endangering the turtles for outweigh the extra shrimp, he says, adding that "commercial fishermen are the best environmentalists out here."

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