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Suit over fishing practices that threaten sea turtles settled

Posted May 13, 2010

— An environmental group has settled a lawsuit against the state over fishing practices that caused the deaths of federally protected sea turtles, officials said Thursday.

The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center filed suit in February against the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission and the Division of Marine Fisheries to stop the state from authorizing the use of gill nets in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Sea turtles caught in the nets are trapped underwater, and they typically drown or suffer severe lacerations while struggling to free themselves, officials said.

The settlement agreement provides for new rules governing gill-net fishing practices to minimize the incidental catch of sea turtles by the nets, officials said.

“This settlement recognizes the cultural importance of traditional ways of life in North Carolina’s fishing community,” Michelle Nowlin, supervising attorney for the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, which represented the Beasley Center, said in a statement.

“We don’t want the fishermen of North Carolina or the sea turtles to become extinct, and these measures will allow both to exist in harmony," Nowlin said. "We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the state and fishing interests to reach an amicable resolution of the center’s claims.”

The new rules adopted by the Marine Fisheries Commission as part of the settlement include the following:

  • Limits on the size and type of gill nets allowed and the time frame in which they can be deployed
  • An enhanced “observer” program, with more observers on the water and a new certification program for volunteer observers
  • An exemption for Currituck Sound and parts of Albemarle Sound, where sea turtle presence has not been confirmed, pending further scientific study
  • A committee appointed by the commission and the Beasley Center to advise state authorities on issues surrounding sea turtle protection

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  • NotFromHere May 13, 2010

    "We can no longer put up canopies on the beach because a turtle might get caught in the lines securing the canopy. So we get cancer and the sea turtles get.....?"

    The sea turtles get life and another generation of our children get to enjoy the wildlife of the NC coastline. Stop being such a lazy cry baby and put on sunscreen like you're supposed to.

  • NotFromHere May 13, 2010

    You know what? I could care less about your fishermen and them making a living using gill nets. The sea turtles belong to all of us and the fishermen don't have the right to kill them off just so they can make a buck. I'm sooo tired of making a buck being valid justification to just do whatever you want regardless of the impact to the environment or society. No different than the BP execs who are now destroying our environment and wildlife in the gulf because they saved a few bucks by not keeping safety equipment up to date. I'm sure you say they were justified too since they saved a few thousand dollars and just killed 11 people and now will kill thousands of animals.

  • fishinmom98 May 13, 2010

    I hope she is happy. Now it seems she wins..turtles come before people's livelihood does. I live here in Sneads Ferry & know a lot of people who depend on commercial fishing (nets) as their way of living. I agree with ReallyBigYawn..this is ridiculous!!

  • ReallyBigYawn May 13, 2010

    Sea Turtle protection has reached ridculous levels. We can no longer put up canopies on the beach because a turtle might get caught in the lines securing the canopy. So we get cancer and the sea turtles get.....? If one became caught in the string I wouldn't let it die! Stupid. If anything it makes me hate the stupid things.

  • uncbabie May 13, 2010

    Oh well good, now that the whole thing is over, I finally find out who her attorneys were.

    I hope this outcome suits everyone. She sure didn't care to discuss it around home.