- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) - A review has found the shrimping industry’s impact on Kemp’s ridley sea turtles is at an all-time low, but an expert said nesting numbers for the rare reptiles have declined.

Researchers are still puzzled as to why there’s been a decline in turtle nesting numbers, which began to decrease after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

But fisheries management expert Benny Gallaway, who studied possible reasons behind the drop, said the good news for the shrimping industry is that the decline isn’t its fault. Gallaway, president of LGL Ecological Research Associates Inc., recently spoke at the International Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Symposium held in Brownsville.

He noted the current population of turtles is higher than it was before, partly due to conservation efforts including a federal mandate that turtle excluder devices, or TEDs, be installed on shrimp boats.

Executive Director Andrea Hance of the Texas Shrimp Association said the perception that shrimping was killing populations of sea turtles before was justified once, but not anymore.

“Were shrimpers killing turtles before TEDs? Yes. The problem is people haven’t heard the new information,” Hance told the Brownsville Herald (https://bit.ly/1BU2693 ). “Everything is 15 years ago. There’s a big misconception, which is one of the hurdles that I’m trying to overcome. We’ve had these numbers for a while. We just don’t really have the avenues or the voice to let people know.”

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Information from: The Brownsville Herald, https://www.brownsvilleherald.com


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