"Shrimp boats that fish in the Gulf of Mexico without the required turtle-excluder devices are killing more sea turtles than is allowed under the Endangered Species Act, the advocacy group Oceana said in a report Tuesday.
The organization based its new estimate of leatherback and loggerhead turtle deaths on federal fishery regulators' emails about periodic checks on the use of the turtle-excluder devices. The group obtained the emails under the Freedom of Information Act. If the memos capture a representative sample of the fleet, the group estimates that 4,874 loggerheads and 108 leatherbacks were killed in the nets last year.
'There are other types of fishing gear that can be dangerous to sea turtles, and there are other problems like oil spills and plastic pollution, but we think the greatest threat now is the shrimp trawl fishery,' said Elizabeth Griffin Wilson, senior manager for marine wildlife at Oceana."