WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today urged Acting Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Benjamin Freidman to relax regulations that are hurting recovery efforts for missing crewmen from the Seacor Power disaster. The letter comes after the Seacor Power, a commercial lift boat, capsized in the Gulf of Mexico on April 13 with 19 crewmembers on board.
“I write today to reiterate in the strongest possible terms the urgency facing these grieving Louisiana families. Mothers, fathers, wives, and children are desperately waiting for any shred of information that may shed light on their loved ones’ whereabouts. Yet, from the beginning, they have encountered incredible bureaucratic red tape from public and private organizations, which may have slowed search and rescue efforts and left these families without timely search reports,” Kennedy wrote.
“The most recent instance concerns reports that volunteers in the Cajun Navy and other organizations intend to use trawling nets to assist in recovery searches but have encountered strong opposition from NOAA related to federal regulations concerning sea turtles. If true, I urge you to immediately use your authority as Acting Administrator to assist volunteer recovery efforts and relax these regulations,” explained Kennedy.
According to reports, NOAA is refusing to allow volunteer shrimp boats to use nets with tied Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) for targeted recovery operations. Fishermen must remove these devices and find replacements, which would waste more time and cost more money, or use other methods that would hamper the search efforts.
“We simply do not have time for bureaucracy—the value of these crewmen and their grieving families demand that we prioritize their recovery above all else,” Kennedy continued.
“Again, I am respectfully requesting that you utilize any authority you may have as Acting Administrator of NOAA to waive regulations related to TEDs and permit Louisiana recovery volunteers to temporarily employ nets with tied TEDs. I also ask that you immediately review any other regulations that may still be hampering recovery efforts so that we can exhaust any and all solutions that would help us recover these seven missing crewmen,” he concluded.
The letter is available here.