In July, 2015 a diverse set of seafood stakeholders from industry and conservation groups worked together to win a significant victory for shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico—the result means good financial and ecological news for the region.
In 1987, the State of Louisiana passed a law prohibiting Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents from enforcing federal turtle-excluder device (TED) regulations in shrimp trawls. Louisiana was the only state in the country with that law. Although some Louisiana shrimpers followed the TED regulations, the state law prohibiting enforcement sent the wrong message and prevented Louisiana from protecting marine life in its state waters. It also prompted the Seafood Watch program to “red” list Louisiana Shrimp as a species to be avoided. In July 2015 a strong collaborative effort involving many players led to the Governor of Louisiana signing a new law that now allows enforcement of the federal regulations. All gulf shrimp caught by otter trawl are now listed as a “good alternative” by the Seafood Watch Program, increasing market access for the fishery.
This success story for Louisiana Gulf Shrimp is the result of parties with disparate perspectives identifying shared goals and can serve as a model for collaboration as a means to improve the marketplace and sustainability of other fisheries. Congratulations to all the organizations and companies that made this possible.