By Dan Shapley
August 1, 2011
A new study says nearly four in five shrimp trawlers in the Gulf of Mexico are failing to use equipment required to protect endangered sea turtles. The death toll could be as high as 5,000 turtles.
There are promotional campaigns designed, with the support of noted environmental groups, to encourage the consumption of Gulf seafood a year after the BP Gulf oil spill.
The seafood may be largely free of oil contamination, but that doesn’t mean it’s all sustainably harvested.
Oceana, the global ocean-conservation group, has unearthed government documents it says paint a damning picture of the Gulf shrimp industry. Only one in five trawlers was in full compliance with rules designed to protect endangered sea turtles, and the violations aboard about one in six trawlers was egregious. The result? That minority of trawlers kills about 90% of the loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles it encounters, with as many as 5,000 turtle deaths resulting from the illegal fishing.