Reducing Juvenile Sea Turtle Bycatch through Development of Reduced Bar Spacing in Turtle Excluder Device
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
DWH Project Funding
Known Leveraged Funding
Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees (NRDA)
Natural Resource Damage Assessment NRDA
This project will develop and test new Turtle Excluder Device (TED) prototype configurations, with smaller bar spacing, for their ability to excludes small juvenile sea turtles. Each new TED design will be tested for turtle exclusion using the existing National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) small sea turtle TED testing protocol and for target catch retention aboard commercial fishing vessels. Although otter trawls (a type of net) used for shrimping are currently required to use TEDs, small juvenile turtles are still vulnerable to capture because their small size allows them to slip through the TED bar spaces into the net or inhibits them from pushing through the TED opening to escape. By adjusting the dimensions and/or configuration of TEDs, there will be improved escapement of small turtles and a decrease in sea turtle mortality. The project supports the Trustees’ goal to restore sea turtles injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill by addressing primary threats to sea turtles in the marine environment such as bycatch in commercial fisheries. Initial project activities include the collection and captive rearing of loggerhead hatchlings for approximately one year to a size appropriate for TED prototype testing. Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings will be raised in captivity in a permitted facility to an appropriate size in order to test small bar spacing TED designs for turtle escapement. The continued development of TED prototypes will occur in years one through three. Testing of selected TED prototypes for sea turtle exclusion and target catch retention rates would occur in years three and four of the project.