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Home > Current News > 2005

News: 2005

N.M.F.S. Extends Turtle Excluder Device (TED) Exemption
Posted: 11/28/05

In response to requests made by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and marine resource agencies in other Gulf states, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has authorized a temporary extension exempting shrimp trawlers from federal Turtle Excluder Device (TED) requirements in certain state and federal waters.

Shrimp trawlers fishing in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas waters from the Florida-Alabama state line westward to the boundary shared by Matagorda and Brazoria Counties in Texas and extending 20 nautical miles offshore continue to be exempt from federal TED requirements through Dec. 23, 2005.

Shrimpers are reminded that this authorization applies to waters seaward a distance of 20 nautical miles offshore rather than the 50 nautical miles offshore previously authorized. In lieu of TEDs, this authorization requires shrimp trawlers to restrict tow times to 75 minutes. Tow times are measured from the time trawl doors enter the water until they are retrieved from the water according to NMFS.

Federal regulations provide for the use of limited tow times as an alternative to the use of TEDs if determined "that the presence of debris or other special environmental conditions in a particular area makes trawling with TED-equipped nets impracticable."

Debris associated with the hurricanes continues to impact both shrimp catch and TED performance and has damaged fishing gear as well. NMFS encourages shrimp trawlers in the affected areas to continue to use TEDs if possible.

NMFS' studies have shown that the problem of clogging by seagrass, algae or by other debris is not unique to TED-equipped nets. When fishermen trawl in problem areas, they may experience clogging with or without TEDs. Shrimp trawlers who continue to use legal TEDs in the affected areas do not have to limit their tow times. However, shrimpers choosing to use tow-time limitations may not simply sew the TED flaps shut; they must remove the TEDs from the trawls.

NMFS will continue to monitor debris problems. If monitoring indicates that debris is no longer a problem, then this authorization may be shortened. If debris continues to be a problem after the dates above, this authorization may be extended. Fishermen should monitor NOAA weather radio for announcements or contact the NMFS Southeast Regional Office at 727-824-5312.

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