NOAA Fisheries may be changing skimmer trawl regulations in the Southeast. If you have an opinion on the regulations, NOAA Fisheries will be holding public meetings around the Gulf in April. Here’s more information from the Southeast Fishery Bulletin:
NOAA Fisheries is considering new regulations in the shrimp fishery of the southeastern United States based on information indicating sea turtles are vulnerable to capture by skimmer trawls and tow times may not be as effective in reducing bycatch-related mortality as turtle excluder devices. The agency will host five public meetings around the region to discuss and receive input from fishermen and other constituents on alternatives to reduce sea turtle bycatch and mortality.
These public meetings are the first stage in a multi-step process required by the National Environmental Policy Act to ensure that Federal agencies evaluate the environmental impacts of major Federal actions. During these meetings, the public is provided with an opportunity to assist us in determining the scope of issues that require analysis. The analysis of issues and the environmental impacts of the proposed actions will be presented in a draft Environmental Impact Statement, which will be made available for public comment. The notice of intent to prepare the draft statement was published in the Federal Register on March 15, 2016.
Additionally, NOAA prepared a scoping document and a list of frequently asked questions as aids to the public on the upcoming scoping process. These documents are available on the NOAA Fisheries website. The scoping document describes the major issues, current management and legal requirements, and identifies potential management measures to reduce interactions, and in particular, lethal interactions, between sea turtles and trawl fisheries. Scoping comments may also be submitted during a concurrent 45-day comment period.
The dates, times and locations of the Mississippi and Alabama meetings in April are as follows:
- Biloxi, Miss. -- April 20, 2016, 5-7 p.m., Biloxi Visitors Center, 1050 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS 39530.
- Bayou La Batre, Ala. -- April 21, 2016, 2-4 p.m., Bayou La Batre Community Center, 12745 Padgett Switch Road, Bayou La Batre, AL 36509.