Feds Order New England Scallop Fishermen To Protect Turtles

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(Credit: PCCS image. Taken under NOAA CFR 222.310, with authority of the ESA)

(Credit: PCCS image. Taken under NOAA CFR 222.310, with authority of the ESA)

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BOSTON (AP) — Federal regulators are now requiring boats that dredge for Atlantic scallops to use new gear that protects sea turtles by deflecting them out of the way.

On Friday, the National Marine Fisheries Service approved the new “turtle deflector dredge,” which scallopers must install within a year. Regional regulators approved the change late last year.

In the new dredge, the cutting bar — which runs along the sea floor — is moved forward so it looks like a train’s cowcatcher. That bumps turtles clear so they don’t get trapped or crushed by the dredge’s heavy chain bag.

The gear was tested to ensure it still effectively catches scallops.

The environmental group Oceana said it was relieved by the change, which it advocated for a decade. It said it expects sea turtle deaths to drop 56 percent.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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