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Home > Management Info > TEDs & BRDs > TEDs

Management Information: TEDs

Definition and History: Turtle Excluder Device (TED)

In the 1970s, scientists noted a reduction in sea turtle populations and, following the enactment of the Endangered Species Act, some species of sea turtles were listed as endangered. Subsequently, over many years, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service attempted to determine causes for these reductions. In the 1980s, they determined that shrimp trawls contributed to sea turtle mortality. Turtle Excluder Devices (TED) in shrimp trawl nets were developed and tested throughout the 1980s and ‘90s in efforts to provide safe methods for turtles to escape almost as soon as they were caught in the net. Preservation of the shrimp catch was considered in the development criteria of the many hard and soft TEDs that were approved for use. But the regulations kept changing to include different TED designs and dimensions, in part to accommodate new circumstances, new technological developments, or new statistics from marine strandings. Although the changes in regulations over the years frustrated some commercial shrimpers, they were addressing new findings about populations and life histories of various species of sea turtles as well as new information about them in conjunction to bycatch in trawl nets. For example, in the 1980s, TEDs were developed to accommodate populations of a small-sized sea turtle, the Kemp’s ridley. In 2002, parts of Florida were closed to shrimp fishing because of a large number of the larger leatherback turtle mortalities. Eventually, NOAA Fisheries concluded that shrimp trawling is not likely to jeopardize listed sea turtle populations as long as shrimpers use certified, correctly installed TEDs, register their vessels, and follow 30-day temporary restrictions when applicable. The temporary restrictions result from regular consultation between NOAA Fisheries and marine stranding coordinators.

Technologically, a TED is a grid in the neck of a shrimp trawl net, which has an opening in the bottom or top mesh to allow a turtle caught in the net to escape. When turtles and other large animals are caught at the mouth of a trawl, they bump into the grid bars and slide through the opening in the mesh. Shrimp and other small animals pass through the bars of the grid into the tailbag or cod end of the trawl net. NOAA Fisheries has been able to show that TEDs are effective at excluding up to 97 percent of sea turtles with minimal loss of shrimp. Over the years, several designs of TEDs were approved and used. Changes continue to be made, often due to input from the shrimping industry. In 2004, for example, the double cover flap design was made more flexible as a result of observations by shrimpers using the originally approved design.

Since 1990, TEDs or some comparable apparatus/activity have been required in foreign shrimp fleets that export wild caught shrimp to the U.S. Also in 2002, NOAA Fisheries, at the request of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, proposed that all Gulf shrimp vessels be required to carry a permit to trawl in federal waters. To learn more, go to the history of regulation for sea turtle conservation.

To allow larger sea turtles to safely escape shrimp trawls, regulations guiding the size and design of TEDs were modified most recently in 2003. Download Federal Register/Vol. 68, No. 35/Friday, February 21, 2003/Rules and Regulations (448KB PDF file) for more information. The new regulations standardized the types of TEDs required to be used throughout federal and state waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, and increased the size of the opening in the shrimp net. Only one soft TED, the Parker TED, is now permitted. Modifications as well as alternative harvest methods such as restricted tow times in certain state waters have been tried prior to the adoption of these most recently published modifications.

Image: Diagram of TED

The final rule requires that all shrimp trawlers fishing in the offshore waters of the southeastern U.S. (South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters) and the inshore waters of Georgia and South Carolina use one of the following TEDs in each net rigged for fishing: a double cover flap TED, a single-grid hard Ted with a 71-inch opening or a Parker soft TED with a 96-inch opening. Because fishermen found that the originally approved design of the double cover flap TED allowed shrimp to escape, NMFS tested a modified design, which is currently accepted for use.

Shrimp trawlers fishing the inshore waters of all states other than Georgia and South Carolina must use either a single grid hard TED with a 44-inch escape opening, a Parker soft Ted with a 56-inch opening or a hooped hard Ted with a 35-inch by 27-inch opening. Trawlers in these areas also have the option to use either of the larger, offshore TED openings for single grid hard TEDS (double cover or 71-inch openings).

Download Instructions:

Approved Hard-TED Designs
(Diagrams derived from images provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service.)

Image: Diagram of Standard Grid TED Design
Image: Diagram of Hooped TED Design
Image: Diagram of Bent Rod TED Design
Image: Diagram of Anthony TED Design
Image: Diagram of Bent Pipe TED Design
Image: Diagram of Fixed Angle TED Design

Archive – Turtle Excluder Devices

To learn more, go to FAQs about TEDs or FAQs about Turtles.

Diagrams dervived from image provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service (from the 2003-2004 Texas Commercial Fishing Guide)

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