Public meeting on shrimping regulation gets little feedback - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Public meeting on shrimping regulation gets little feedback

The public meeting on new shrimp regulations drew more than 50 fishermen, but only one provided public input. (Photo source: WLOX) The public meeting on new shrimp regulations drew more than 50 fishermen, but only one provided public input. (Photo source: WLOX)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

A new federal regulation on Coast shrimpers may add more stress on an already stressed industry.

Wednesday’s meeting discussed expanding the use of Turtle Excluder Devices to shallow water skimmer nets. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meeting drew more than 50 fishermen.

However, only one was willing to talk about the potential impact of the new TED regulation.

“If this is implemented, you will lose more fishermen,” said Thau Bu, director of the Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese American Fisherfolks and Families. “Livelihoods threatened, families facing serious hardship. We lose so much of the cultural traditional heritage and value the fishing communities have contributed for hundreds of years.”

Bu was also upset that Vietnamese families in attendance didn't get enough time to translate the information to even understand what was facing them.

So, she spoke for them.

“They’ve really been seriously struggling already, and to impose this regulation now only to incur additional costs for them, but it’s going to make it that much more difficult for them to catch the shrimp," added Bu. 

NOAA representative Mike Barnette says the regulations will meet a mandate without hurting business.

Off-shore trawlers already have the equipment that allow endangered turtles, as well as other game fish, to escape with only about a 6 percent loss of shrimp catch.

“We don’t expect that there will be an impact on the consumer, whether it be at the grocery store or at the seafood restaurant,” Barnette said. “But, moreover, the general public wants to know that there are healthy populations of sea turtles and other species out in the wild.”

Long-time boat captain Tony Pizzi couldn’t make it to the meeting, but has a lot to say about the regulation.

“On the skimmers, they’re supposed to pull 45 minutes and they don't do it,” Pizzi said. “And it’s the fisherman’s fault. That’s when you catch all....the stuff that you don't want, the bigger fish. If they pick up every 45 minutes you wouldn't have that problem. But they want to drag two hours like the regular boat does.”

But, Pizzi understands both sides of the issue.

“It’s our fault, but, then again, they’ve been regulating us so hard lately, it’s hard for us to make a living,” Pizzi said. “Since Katrina and BP, fishermen are dying. We’re a dying breed.”

The deadline for public input is Feb. 14.

The final version of the regulation won’t be in effect until early 2018.

Comments can be mailed to Michael Barnette, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Ave. South, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33701 or faxed to 727-824-5309.

Comments can be filed electronically at www.regulations.gov.

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