SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal fisheries managers and biologists continue to grapple with sea turtle conservation — specifically with preventing the bycatch of turtles in commercial fishery operations.
The highly touted turtle excluder devices may not be as effective as hoped in certain types of fishing operations, NOAA biologists said as they announced that they are withdrawing a proposed rule to require turtle excluder devices (TEDs) for skimmer trawls, pusher-head trawls, and wing-net trawls in the southeast shrimp fisheries.
NOAA observers collected data that showed the devices may not prevent small sea turtles from being caught in nets as previous data suggested. The proposed rule would have affected 2,600 fishermen, and had not yet taken effect.
TEDs are very effective at allowing turtles to escape from otter trawl nets operating offshore, but the device may need to be modified to work effectively for the inshore trawl fisheries. Typically, skimmer trawls fish in shallow areas where they tend to encounter smaller, young turtles, while otter trawls fish in both shallow and deeper waters so on average they tend to encounter larger turtles.
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