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Wicker & Cochran Applaud NOAA Move to Withdraw Proposed Rule that Threatened High Costs for Shrimpers

Thursday, November 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) on Wednesday supported a decision by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to withdraw a proposed rule that threatened to impose burdensome restrictions on many Gulf shrimpers.  The rule would have required small shrimp boats to include turtle excluder devices (TEDs) to help reduce the incidental catch of sea turtles.  NOAA found that TEDs were ineffective on boats that trawl in shallow waters.
“Gulf shrimpers contribute greatly to the economy of South Mississippi,” said Wicker.  “Circumstances have forced them to overcome significant obstacles in recent years.  NOAA’s proposed rule would have added another burden for no reason.  Sound science should guide the rule making process, and I am glad NOAA studied the problem before pressing forward with a flawed rule.”

“I appreciate that NOAA is agreeing to study this issue in more depth rather than issue new regulations on our troubled shrimping industry.  Many shrimpers operate on the margins of profitability, and any new regulations should be science-based and considerate of that fact,” Cochran said.

Approximately 2,600 shrimpers along the Gulf Coast would have been impacted by the proposed rule.  Equipping small shrimp boats with TEDs would add significant cost to harvesting operations.  Currently, shrimpers in shallow waters can use tow time restrictions instead of TEDs to prevent turtle deaths.  

Wicker and Cochran as well as other Gulf Coast lawmakers wrote to NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco in March asking that NOAA avoid placing unnecessary restrictions on Gulf shrimpers.  The letter states, “Fallout from a decade of disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, a severe economic recession, illegal shrimp imports, and the 2010 oil spill has negatively impacted the Gulf shrimp industry, which not long ago was America’s most valuable commercial fishery.”

A copy of that letter can be found here.

NOAA’s announcement can be found here: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/news_room/press_releases/2012/press_release_skimmer_trawl_proposed_rule.pdf

November 2012 Press Releases