Turtle Excluder Devices

For four decades, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant have worked with shrimpers to develop and test devices that allow turtles to escape from shrimp trawls and reduce bycatch.

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The fishing industry in Georgia is making efforts to reduce bycatch, which is unwanted fish and other marine creatures caught during commercial fishing for a different species. The use of turtle exclusion devices (TEDs) reduces bycatch, protects important species and yields a larger amount of target product.

Did you know?

Sinkey Boone, a Georgia shrimper and net designer, invented the first excluder device in 1968 to keep cannonball jellyfish out of his nets.

Collaborative bycatch reduction research creates a platform on which to establish common ground: in spite of diverse values and conflicting agendas, all groups involved want to reduce catches of non-target species. For example, devices to reduce bycatch not only address unnecessary mortality of fish and invertebrates, but they also produce better quality shrimp.

With fewer animals and less debris in the net, shrimp are less likely to become bruised or damaged. Fewer non-target species in the net also means less time and labor spent sorting the catch.

The Georgia Jumper Big Boy: the latest TED design

Sinkey Boone, inventor of the original turtle excluding grid, tested a new TED design called the Georgia Jumper Big Boy. It was developed specifically to exclude endangered leatherback sea turtles and to reduce stress as all sea turtles escape.

This new design features an even bigger escape opening and smaller (2 inch) bar spacing and reinforced stainless steel to reduce bycatch. This adaptation of the TED is also designed to reduce bycatch of finfish, sharks and rays, and ecologically important invertebrates such as horseshoe crabs. Sinkey Boone worked with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant to quantify bycatch composition and biomass, as well as shrimp harvest, using this new TED design.

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant conducted research to compare the bycatch reduction potential of the Big Boy TED with the industry standard.

Out of 44 two-hour paired tows, no sea turtles were captured by either TED. The Big Boy never captured a horseshoe in these tows; there was a 15 percent reduction in bycatch of sharks, rays, and finfish; there was a 46.6 percent reduction of total bycatch biomass; and, it has been seen to catch slightly more shrimp per tow.

In the summer of 2008, the Big Boy passed testing for national certification.

In May 2012, the Big Boy was approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for use in the national shrimp fishery.

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