Turtle Excluder Devices

Turtle excluder devices, commonly called TEDs, promote sea turtle conservation by addressing interactions between sea turtles and trawl fishing gear. These devices are made of metal bars and mesh that fit inside the neck of a trawl net. While shrimp pass between the bars to the back of the net, turtles and other larger animals bump against the metal grid and escape through a flap in the mesh.

Sea turtle escaping a net equipped with turtle excluder device.

Sea turtle escaping a net equipped with turtle excluder device.

All sea turtles found in U.S. waters are listed under the Endangered Species Act as either threatened or endangered. By the late 1970s, incidental bycatch of sea turtles in shrimp trawling gear in the southeastern United States was determined to be a major threat to the survival of sea turtle populations. Our Harvesting Systems Unit, with assistance from the commercial shrimping industry, initiated research to develop solutions to this problem. The result of over a decade of gear development, and subsequent evaluation, was the turtle excluder device.

The modern TED is a simple grid made of metal bars that is fit into a trawl net. Small animals, such as shrimp, pass through the grid into the mesh bag at the end of the trawl and are caught. When larger animals like sea turtles enter the trawl net, they are redirected by the TED and are able to exit through an opening either at the top or bottom of the net. Current TED designs  have been determined to be 97 percent effective in excluding turtles from shrimp trawls. NOAA Fisheries gear experts continue to work with the shrimp fishing industry to develop new and effective ways to reduce bycatch.

Today, many shrimp trawlers operating in the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic are required by federal law to equip their trawls with a TED.

Shrimp Fisheries Biological Opinion

In April 2014, NOAA Fisheries completed its most recent evaluation of the impacts to sea turtles and other protected species from southeast shrimp fisheries under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. Read the opinion document (PDF, 346 pages). 

 

Resources

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Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program Annual Report to Congress, 2014

In support of our mission to sustainably manage the nation’s fisheries, NOAA Fisheries has been investing in technological and engineering

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Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program Annual Report to Congress, 2013

This report highlights outcomes and management applications of projects funded through the Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (BREP) in FY 2012.

Publications

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Recovery Plan for Hawksbill Turtles in the U.S. Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and Gulf of Mexico (Eretmochelys imbricata)

The hawksbill is listed as an endangered species throughout the world. The most important nesting beaches within United States jurisdiction in the

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Recovery Plan for Leatherback Turtles in the U.S. Caribbean, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico

This plan is directed at recovery of leatherback populations occuring within the U.S. Caribbean, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. The team recognizes the

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Recovery Plan for U.S. Population of Atlantic Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Breeding populations in Florida and on the Pacific coast of Mexico are federally listed as endangered. All other populations are listed as threatened

Insight

Understanding Bycatch

Fishing operations sometimes result in “bycatch” of non-target species. Learn how NOAA Fisheries is working with partners to reduce bycatch.

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