Thursday 18 January 2024

Costly Biden Rule Threatens To Put Louisiana Shrimpers Out Of Business, Lawsuit States

 A shrimper interest group is suing the Biden administration over a costly new rule that threatens the livelihoods of many Louisiana fisherman, the Louisiana Shrimp Association (LSA) announced Wednesday.

The LSA, in partnership with the conservative Pelican Institute, challenged a requirement by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that skimmer trawl vessels 40 feet and longer in length use Turtle Excluder Devices (TED). The devices are designed to help sea turtles escape if caught in shrimpers nets.

“The bureaucrats who instituted this rule ignored the economic devastation it will cause to shrimpers,” Pelican Institute founder James Baehr said in a statement. “This unnecessary and unconstitutional rule is a direct attack on Louisiana livelihoods and culture.”

The new rule mandates an expensive new update to shrimpers boats, and one that is, by the data, unnecessary, the lawsuit argues.

“These [NMFS] bureaucrats ignored data showing 1) the devastating financial impact the rule would have on Louisiana shrimpers and 2) the complete lack of environmental threat facing inshore turtles – as only two documented interactions with sea turtles have occurred in 55 years and neither was harmed – and turtle nests are thriving,” said the lawsuit, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Wire.

In addition, the LSA filing accused the Biden administration of violating the regulatory protocol when implementing the new rule.

“Defendants have violated the [Administrative Procedures Act (APA)] by (1) failing to show the need for a new rule without any evidence that sea turtles inhabit Louisiana’s inshore waters and thereby encounter skimmer trawls, (2) refusing to consider relevant data supporting an exclusion zone for inshore waters of Louisiana despite the State of Louisiana’s request for an exclusion zone, and (3) ignoring significant industry reliance interests by the shrimpers,” the lawsuit said.


The NMFS issued the final rule requiring TEDs in 2019, but the implementation of the rule was delayed several times. The rule was first delayed until April 1, 2021, to give time for local shrimping shops to acquire and affix the TEDs to shrimp boats. The rule was delayed again after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic until August 1, 2021, to allow for travel and business restrictions.

“[D]espite a request from the Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife for the NMFS to delay the rule again in light of continuing challenges, the Defendants refused to delay the Final Rule’s effective date and Plaintiffs have paid the price,” the lawsuit states.

An NMFS economic analysis completed prior to the rule’s implementation found that “that the financial conditions for many vessels are and have been poor” and that shrimpers operate on small margins. The analysis also found that “a high number of the part-time vessels may not continue operating” after the costly new rule is put in place, according to the lawsuit.

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