Turtle Excluder Device Regulations
Turtle excluder devices (TED) have been required in the United States beginning in 1987. The southeastern shrimp fisheries—which once faced severe restrictions and closures to protect endangered sea turtles—have continued to operate while saving the lives of sea turtles by using TEDs.
Turtle excluder devices are currently only required in trawl fisheries targeting shrimp and summer flounder in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
The United States Code of Federal Regulations contains the detailed regulations that NOAA Fisheries has issued to protect sea turtles under the Endangered Species Act. Title 50, Section 223 details the federal laws regarding sea turtle protections and TED usage:
- 50 CFR 223.205: Sea Turtles
- 50 CFR 223.206: Exceptions to Prohibitions Relating to Sea Turtles
- 50 CFR 223.207: Approved TEDs
Additional requirements for fishermen:
- Sea Turtle Safe Handling and Resuscitation Guidelines (PDF, 9 pages)
Potential New Turtle Exclusion Device Requirements for Skimmer Trawl Vessels Less Than 40 Feet (12.2 meters) in Length
We have published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to solicit comments on the possibility of modifying the turtle excluder device (TED) related requirements for skimmer trawl vessels less than 40 feet (12.2 meters) in length operating in the southeast U.S. shrimp fisheries. We are requesting comments on this possible action.
- April 20, 2021, Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Federal Register Notice
- April 22, 2021, Fishery Bulletin On the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Final Rule to Require TEDs on Skimmer Trawl, Pusher-Head Trawl, and Wing Net Vessels
We have issued a final rule to amend the alternative tow time restriction to require all skimmer trawl vessels 40 feet and greater in length to use TEDs designed to exclude small sea turtles in their nets. The purpose of this rule is to reduce incidental bycatch and mortality of sea turtles in the southeastern U.S. shrimp fisheries, and to aid in the protection and recovery of listed sea turtle populations. We are also amending the definition of tow time to better clarify the intent and purpose of tow times to reduce sea turtle mortality, and we are refining additional portions of the TED requirements to avoid potential confusion.
- December 20, 2019, Final rule
- December 19, 2019, Fishery Bulletin and Frequently Asked Questions
- March 31, 2021, Final Rule Delaying the Effective Date of the Skimmer Trawl Rule from April 1, 2021 to August 1, 2021.
- March 30, 2021, Fishery Bulletin On the Delayed Effective Date
Sea Turtle Bycatch - Observer Data
NOAA Fisheries produces data on observed sea turtle interactions and reports estimated sea turtle interaction rates and the amount of sea turtle bycatch in the skimmer trawl component of Southeast U.S. shrimp fisheries.
Observer Coverage of the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Skimmer Trawl Fishery (NOAA Tech Memo, NMFS-SEFSC-666)
Observer Coverage of the 2013 Gulf of Mexico Skimmer Trawl Fishery (NOAA Tech Memo, NMFS-SEFSC-654)
Observer Coverage of the 2012 Gulf of Mexico Skimmer Trawl Fishery (NOAA Tech Memo, NMFS-SEFSC-636)
Management of Federal Shrimp Fisheries
In addition to our work on TEDs, NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the management of shrimp fisheries in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic. For more information about shrimp fisheries management in the Southeast region, please visit our Gulf of Mexico Operations Branch or our South Atlantic Operations Branch.
For more information about TED regulations, contact:
Michael Barnette, Protected Resources Division
NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office
Phone: (727) 551-5794