NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The federal fisheries agency says that by the start of next year's shrimp season, all trawls should be required to include trap-doors for endangered and threatened sea turtles.
"Turtle excluder devices" are required on many trawls. But smaller boats are allowed to haul up some kinds of nets every hour or so to ensure that turtles don't drown, rather than installing the trapdoors.
The proposal comes after two years in which a total of more than 1,100 dead sea turtles were found in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama waters. Officials have said many had drowned near the bottom, probably in shrimp nets.
The National Marine Fisheries Service's proposed rule is scheduled for publication Thursday in the Federal Register. A pre-publication copy was on the Federal Register's website Tuesday.