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.

NEW: Proposed Rule to Require TEDs on Skimmer Trawl, Pusher-Head Trawl, and Wing Net Vessels (Federal Register, December 16, 2016).

NEW: Draft Environmental Impact Statement to Reduce the Incidental Bycatch and Mortality of Sea Turtles in the Southeastern U.S. Shrimp Fisheries.

NEW: Frequently Asked Questions on the Proposed Rule to Require TEDs on Skimmer Trawl, Pusher-Head Trawl, and Wing Net Vessels.

Scoping Document for Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement to Reduce Incidental Bycatch and Mortality of Sea Turtles in the Southeastern U.S. Shrimp Fisheries

Contact Us
For more information about TEDs

Michael Barnette 
Phone: (727) 551-5794
Em
ail: Michael.Barnette@noaa.gov

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. 

Sea Turtle Bycatch

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

  Observed Sea Turtle Interactions, July-September 2016

  Observed Sea Turtle Interactions, October-December 2016

  Observed Sea Turtle Interactions, 2011-2015

  Observer Coverage of the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Skimmer Trawl Fishery.

  Observer Coverage of the 2013 Gulf of Mexico Skimmer Trawl Fishery.

  Observer Coverage of the 2012 Gulf of Mexico Skimmer Trawl Fishery.

The United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) contains the detailed regulations that NOAA Fisheries has issued to protect sea turtles under the ESA.

Sea Turtles and TED Regulations (50 CFR 223.205-207).

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