WASHINGTON — Commerce Secretary Robert A. Mosbacher, ordered by a judge to protect endangered sea turtles, told shrimp fishermen Monday that they must inspect their nets every 105 minutes for trapped turtles.
However, environmentalists said that that interval is too long and promised to oppose Mosbacher in court.
The Commerce Department said that the trawling time limitations, which take effect today and will be in force at least through Sept. 7, will protect the Kemp's ridley turtle better than turtle excluder devices, which shrimp fishermen strongly oppose.
The department said the turtles can survive submerged for 90 minutes. Environmentalists say the department's own studies show that one in four sea turtles will drown during a tow time of 105 minutes.
The new regulation established a 105-minute cycle for shrimpers--7 1/2 minutes to get their nets in the water, 90 minutes to trawl and 7 1/2 minutes to retrieve the nets.