A global wildlife body today appealed to the European Union to immediately take action to protect marine turtles by requiring that all tropical shrimp trawlers exporting into the EU implement special devices so that these creatures are not harmed. In a statement released on the occasion of the World Sea Turtle Day, the WWF also called upon "all actors, from the tropical shrimp fisheries right up to national governments, and the European Commission, to demonstrate their commitment to help secure a permanent place for sea turtles in the global marine ecosystem". India is one of the largest exporters of shrimps, mainly, to the US and the EU markets with approximately 46 per cent of shrimps being wild caught. India is also home to the largest mass nesting olive- ridley turtle population which is threatened by shrimp trawling without TEDs (Turtle Excluder Devices), says the WWF. "The government of India has been facilitating the installation of TEDs in shrimp trawl boats through CIFT (Central Institute of Fisheries Technology), and the state government of Odisha has made it mandatory for all trawlers to use TEDs. However, implementation of these regulations is still a concern and needs to be strengthened," it said. The WWF said it is globally calling on the EU to immediately take action to protect marine turtles by requiring that all tropical shrimp trawlers exporting into the EU implement TEDs. A report launched by WWF reveals that tens of thousands of marine turtles are killed each year during trawling for shrimps.
A simple solution to the problem is the use of TEDs in the trawl nets. The use of TEDs has proven to have reduced turtle bycatch by upto 97 per cent with minimal shrimp catch loss, the wildlife conservation said. "Marine turtles represent a vital natural heritage for India and the country should do all it can to protect turtles from critical threats such as bycatch, loss of nesting habitat, and climate change. "Transforming the shrimp industry towards sustainability, including the use of Turtle Excluder Devices is a critical way forward," said Ravi Singh, CEO, WWF-India.