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Program Downgrades Louisiana Shrimp to 'Avoid'

Louisiana wild-caught shrimp have landed on the "avoid" list of a seafood program popular with environmentally-conscious consumers. According to the AP, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has recommended that shrimp eaters avoid Louisiana shrimp because the state doesn't enforce federal requirements that turtle escape hatches be installed in shrimp trawls.

Shrimpers insist that the escape hatches are prohibitively expensive, costing them a huge chunk of their shrimp revenue. A state law passed back in 1987 says that Louisiana agents are forbidden to enforce federal laws requiring "turtle excluder" devices in state waters (most shrimping is done in Louisiana waters). Margaret Spring, vice president of conservation and science for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, explained that the state's mandate not to enforce the protective turtle measure is why Louisiana shrimp were branded with the "avoid" label, though local shrimpers suspect the impact of the downgrade will be limited to out-of-state shrimp consumption. Kim Chauvin, who runs the Mariah Jade Shrimp Co., told The Courier in Houma that such environmental labels appeal more to people living beyond Louisiana: "They appeal to the people in the Midwest. People do not really know what is going on down here."

· Seafood Watch puts Louisiana shrimp on 'avoid' list [AP via]
· Louisiana shrimp downgraded [Houma Today]

[Photo: Louisiana Seafood News]

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