Catching shrimp, saving turtles


A turtle excluder device (TED), created by a coastal Georgia fisherman in conjunction with the UGA Marine Extension Service (MAREX), has been certified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for use on commercial trawlers. The Boone Big Boy is designed to allow sea turtles to escape shrimp nets more quickly and reduce the unwanted bycatch of finfish, sharks, rays and ecologically important invertebrates like horseshoe crabs. MAREX tested the Big Boy against the industry standard during 44 two-hour trawls, which were funded by NOAA and the Georgia Sea Grant, and found that the new device reduced overall bycatch biomass by 46.6 percent. In the U.S., all shrimpers must use TEDs in trawl nets. The Big Boy TED offers shrimpers an option that could result in fuel savings, less wear and tear on gear, less time and energy sorting the catch and a better quality product. Since 1970, MAREX has collaborated with fishermen to protect coastal resources and sustain local livelihoods.