Sea Turtle Protection and Shrimp Fisheries
One of the major threats to sea turtles is getting caught in fishing gear and drowned. The term for this accidental catch is bycatch. Sea turtle bycatch is a worldwide problem, but one of the first places it received a lot of attention was in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic shrimp fishery. Since the 1970s, scientists, managers, and fishermen have worked together to reduce the frequency at which sea turtles become bycatch. They succeeded with the development of the Turtle Excluder Device (TED). A TED is a 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, such as sea turtles, sharks, and sting rays, enter the trawl net, they are stopped by the TED and are able to exit through an opening either at the top or bottom of the net.
The shrimp fishery, which once faced severe restrictions and closures to protect endangered sea turtles, has continued to operate while saving the lives of sea turtles by using TEDs. TEDs have been required in the United States beginning in 1987. NOAA Fisheries gear experts continue to work with the shrimp fishing industry to develop new and effective ways to reduce bycatch.
For more information about TEDs
Phone: (727) 551-5794
Learn more about the history behind the development of TEDs and how they have changed over the last decades.
Learn how to construct, install, and maintain TEDs in compliance with regulations.
Learn more about the criteria used by federal law enforcement officials to evaluate TED compliance.
NOAA Fisheries has produced data on sea turtle bycatch. These data include observed sea turtle interactions in Southeast U.S. shrimp fisheries and reports estimating sea turtle interaction rates and the amount of sea turtle bycatch in the skimmer trawl component of Southeast U.S. shrimp fisheries
The United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) contains the detailed regulations that NOAA Fisheries has issued to protect sea turtles under the ESA.
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.
Management of Federal Shrimp Fisheries
In addition to the work on TEDs done by the Protected Resources Division, NOAA Fisheries’ Sustainable Fisheries Division 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 please visit: the Gulf of Mexico Operations Branch or the South Atlantic Operations Branch.