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New turtle excluder device requirement for skimmer trawl vessels now in effect

A new turtle excluder device (TED) requirement for larger skimmer trawl vessels is now in effect, as of Aug. 1.

A federal rule change requires that a TED be installed in any net that is rigged for fishing on skimmer trawl vessels that are 40 feet or greater in length. The rule change pertains to the entire southeastern United States shrimp fishery, including North Carolina waters.

A skimmer trawl is a type of shrimp trawl net that is fished from booms on the side of the vessel, which allows fishermen to more quickly cull their catch than with traditional otter trawls that are dragged behind the boat. A TED is a grid of bars that is fitted into the neck of a shrimp trawl that allows small marine animals, such as shrimp, to pass through, but keeps larger animals, like sea turtles from capture.

While NOAA Fisheries has required the use of TEDs in all otter trawl nets since 1992, it has not required the use of TEDs in skimmer trawl nets. The new federal rule is meant to further protect sea turtles under the Endangered Species Act.

For more information, see the NOAA Fishery Bulletin or contact Kevin Brown, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries gear biologist, at Kevin.H.Brown@ncdenr.gov or Chris Stewart, the division’s shrimp biologist, at Chris.Stewart@ncdenr.gov.

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