I posted a photo of a sea turtle caught in a net on Facebook today and it had a link supporting TED’s or Turtle Excluding Devices. Two people connected with the commercial seafood industry cried out in anger saying shrimpers didn’t hurt sea turtles and they loved nature and besides (and I quote) “There are plenty of sea turtles.” After my blood pressure came back to normal and I got really depressed about nature’s continued destruction by humans I decided to do a little research.
First of all, all sea turtles that visit or live in US waters are on the endangered species list. National Marine Fisheries Service cites the following reasons: Destruction/alteration of nesting and foraging habitats (coastal development), incidental capture in commercial and recreational fisheries, entanglement in marine debris and vessel strikes. So while the shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico may love nature, their nets do kill sea turtles and finned fish and other marine life that cannot escape. This is a known fact.
In 2011 more than 3500 threatened and endangered sea turtles washed up dead on the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. Only 5 to 6% of dead turtles wash ashore…do the math on the total estimated number of sea turtles killed just last year.
Nets properly equipped with TED’s are proved to be 97% effective in releasing sea turtles. And this comes after trials and rebuilds on the equipment. Very few shrimpers voluntarily used TED’s so laws were put into practice to require some shrimpers to use TED’s.
According to the person that replied to my post, the government is lying about all this. He went on to say that coastal development hurt sea turtles as did other fishing boats who don’t use TED’s and he’s right on both accounts. But I know of shrimpers that used to shoot sea turtles, years ago, because they would get in their nets. I actually even found one shot and dead on the beach many years ago. Times have changed for sure. Hopefully that kind of behavior is no longer practiced. Now, if someone does that and gets caught they go to prison and lose their boat.
We think that kind of atrocious behavior is in the past but actually on June 21st of this summer, a bottlenose dolphin was found with a screwdriver sticking in its head. It had been reported in Perdido Bay and was still alive but was later discovered dead. So much for humans acting appropriately. Even the fine of up to $100,000 and a year in jail doesn’t deter people who, for whatever reason, cannot temper their inclination for seriously stupid and cruel behavior.
I find myself overwhelmed with emotions of sadness, grief and anger at what we humans are doing to this planet and each other. There are people that care and there are people that refuse to accept responsibility for their behaviors and call it the Will of God if a species goes extinct. So…should we not have doctors and let the problem species of the planet die off? Then everything else would come into balance. Of course not. But oh for a magic pill that would help us all see how our behaviors, thoughts, intentions and actions are destroying the planet and each other.
When I found myself deep in dark emotions this afternoon, I lit and candle and said a prayer for understanding. A few minutes later, while folding clothes, I heard these words: Those that don’t care about the planet and are only concerned about how much wealth they can amass, want you to quit, to give up. They want everyone who is bringing awareness, practicing compassion and love–to wildlife, wild places, and people who are hurting–to give up. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Love deeply, have compassion for all life and continue with the Work.
I replied back to the gentleman and let him know I heard his frustration about developers getting away with anything because they have money. I understand and agree. I also agree that some commercial and recreational fishermen and women follow the rules and some don’t. What I suggested was a dialogue between fishermen and women and National Marine Fisheries and NOAA. Rather than fighting each other and both sides claiming the other is lying, find common ground. Start healthy, sane dialogues. Otherwise we are destined to repeat and perpetuate the same old dysfunctional way of being.