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Home > Management Info > TEDs & BRDs > BRDs

Management Information: BRDs

Definition and History: Bycatch Reduction Device (BRD)

Bycatch range from extra or incidental catch to unobserved mortalities and waste to opportunistic additions to the day’s catch. It is harvested fish or shellfish other than the target species for which fishing gear was set, and it is sometimes discarded and sometimes kept for consumption or sale. For example, bycatch includes blue crabs caught in shrimp trawls or sharks caught on tuna longlines. Bycatch is common to commercial and recreational fishing, many types of gear, and many shellfish and finfish species.

To minimize this accidental capture, NOAA Fisheries developed and tested Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs). Technologically, a BRD is an opening in the shrimp trawl net to allow finfish or other accidentally captured aquatic animals to escape while the target species of shrimp is directed towards the tail bag or cod end of the net. Placement and design have been developed in conjunction with normal bottom trawling practices using trawl nets outfitted with a Turtle Excluder Device (TED). BRDs are required in shrimp trawl nets working in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic regions.

Image: Photo of BRD
Photo provided by David Medici, Program Director, Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Inc.

Bycatch is unavoidable. It can include species that may be targeted in other fisheries, undersized fish in the target fishery as well as accidentally caught endangered or protected species. In all cases, these fish and shellfish are part of a species population and an ecological system. Therefore, removing them affects the food chain and ultimately the economic and social aspects of the fishery in many ways. For example, positive results occur when fishermen release bycatch or retain it for consumption or sale, or when weakened or dead bycatch becomes food for scavengers in the food chain. Negative results occur when an endangered or protected species is removed from its already small population.

Officially, National Standard 9 was added to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 1996 to address the need to control the size and dimension of bycatch. The standard mandates minimizing bycatch to the extent practicable and minimizing mortality of unavoidable bycatch. Congress also indicated the importance of bycatch by increasing requirements to protect this harvest in the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. In response to these mandates, NOAA Fisheries (National Marine Fisheries Service) developed an ongoing bycatch plan (7.67MB PDF file) and published Amendment 10 (71.6KB PDF file) to the Fisheries Management Plan of the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council.

In conjunction with the plan, NOAA Fisheries and other agencies continue to collect data in order to monitor the extent and type of bycatch in all U.S. fishery regions. The associated research plan for the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic fisheries is available online at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/bycatch.htm, or download Implementing the Sustainable Fisheries Act (1.01MB PDF file) and the Southeast Region Current Bycatch Priorities and Implementation Plan (76.6KB PDF file). This portion of the Sea Grant Fisheries Web site is dedicated to providing information and an archive of articles only about conservation efforts of commercial shrimpers associated with the use of BRDs in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic regions.

Research during the 1990s in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic shrimp trawl fisheries examined the proportions of catch and bycatch by weight between 1990 and 1996. The data indicated that catches in the Gulf consisted of about 67 percent finfish, 16 percent commercial shrimp, 13 percent non-commercial shrimp, and 4 percent other invertebrates and in the South Atlantic, the catch averaged 51 percent finfish, 18 percent commercial shrimp, 13 percent non-commercial shrimp and crustaceans, and 18 percent non-crustacean invertebrates (by weight). After insertion of various types of BRDs in the shrimp trawl nets, significant reductions were noted for Spanish mackerel, weakfish, croaker and spot in the South Atlantic region, and for Atlantic croaker, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel and red snapper in the Gulf region. Red snapper conservation was one of the primary reasons for interest in BRDs by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. For more information, go to http://www.olemiss.edu/orgs/SGLC/18.2/brds.htm and Status Report on Red Snapper Research & Bycatch Reduction in the Gulf of Mexico (July 15, 1998) (71KB PDF file). To read more articles about the effectiveness of BRDs, go to the BRDs archive.

During 1997 and 1998, trawls in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic regions were required to insert and use a Bycatch Reduction Device (BRD) in their nets. This device is installed in the cod end of a shrimp trawl for the purpose of excluding finfish from the net. Since that time, NOAA Fisheries has certified three types of BRDs for use in the Gulf of Mexico region: the Gulf Fisheye, the Jones-Davis, and the Fisheye BRDs; and five for the south Atlantic region: the Extended Funnel, Expanded Mesh, Fisheye, Gulf Fisheye and Jones-Davis BRDs.

Research during 2003-2004 led to the conclusion that the Extended Funnel BRD and an Expanded Mesh BRD were considered the most successful in the South Atlantic and the 12” by 5” Fisheye BRD was considered most successful in both South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters. These conclusions are subject to continuing research.

To learn more, go to FAQs about BRDs.

Image: Diagram of BRD
A lateral-view schematic of a fisheye situated along the top center line of the trawl codend with the apex pointing forward. Illustration provided by the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service, Brunswick, GA. (from publication Bycatch and its Reduction in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Shrimp Fisheries.)

For information about approved BRDs, go to Specifications for Certified BRDs. Approved BRDs are the Extended Funnel, Expanded mesh, fisheye, Gulf Fisheye, and Jones-Davis.

For further information regarding BRD requirements call NOAA Fisheries in Pascagoula, MS at (228) 762-4591, or go to: http://www.mslabs.noaa.gov/teds.html

Archive - Bycatch Reduction Devices

Image: Diagram of BRD

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