Tens of thousands of sea turtle advocates deluged National Marine Fisheries Service with letters, emails and faxes in support of new sea turtle protections in the U.S. shrimp fishery for today's July 9 deadline. The new regulations will prevent more than 5,000 sea turtles per year, mostly Kemp's ridleys, from drowning in shrimp skimmer trawls, which are currently exempt from laws requiring Turtle Excluder Devices.
The team at Turtle Island Restoration Network and Sea Turtle Restoration Project mobilized ocean groups, members, supporters and other allies and reached out to "non-traditional" organizations such as sport fishers, restaurant associations and the shrimp fishery itself to gain support for TEDs in the shrimp skimmer trawl fleet.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to speak out for the sea turtles.
Here is a summary of the support that we generated:
1. A conservation coalition letter with 42 organizations (including sportfishers)
2. A scientists letter with 30 distinguished names
3. About 3,000 individual letters from STRP members and supporters who signed our on-line action in response to our action alerts and social media postings
4. Another 415 individual names who signed our hard-copy petitions
5. Numerous unique letters (dozens at least) from members who took the extra step to go directly to the NMFS website to enter their comments and copy us
6. Detailed comments on the Environmental Impact Statement and the proposed TEDs regulation written by TIRN and Center for Biological Diversity
7. Action alerts and comments from allied groups including Lone Star Sierra in Texas (not an easy one to get), Wild Earth Guardians, Animal Welfare Institute, Coastal Conservation Association, several other fishing groups as well as our ocean partners Oceana, Sea Turtle Conservancy and Defenders of Wildlife
8. Generated news media for the public hearings in the Gulf.