Shrimpers face fines after sea turtle operation
NEW ORLEANS - In the past six months, federal agents say they have found dozens of Gulf of Mexico shrimpers in violation of rules requiring gear on their trawl nets to allow entangled sea turtles to swim to safety.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agents say they inspected 531 boats between April and October and found 59 shrimpers in violation of the rules. Also, agents issued 81 verbal warnings and 20 written warnings.
Shrimpers simply did not have the gear, known as turtle excluder devices, on their nets or did not have the devices installed properly. The devices allow turtles caught in trawl nets to swim to safety. Turtles often drown when they can't escape nets.
A spike in sea turtle deaths since 2010 prompted federal agents to crack down on shrimpers.