Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) enable sea turtles caught in shrimping nets to escape through special openings. When sea turtles are scooped up into a shrimper’s net, they drown if they are unable to escape.
TEDs are not required on the skimmer trawls used by some shrimp boats, and these boats are required to limit their tow times depending on the time of the year. Tow time refers to the time the shrimp nets are pulled on the ocean floor.
Tow times generally range from 55 to 75 minutes, but even when these restrictions are followed, skimmers drown sea turtles.
Shrimp trawling is one of the most significant threats to sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico and the Endangered Species Act requires National Marine Fisheries Service to take action to stop the ongoing death of sea turtles in skimmer trawls.
All shrimp trawls must be required to use TEDs to allow air breathing sea turtles to escape from the shrimp nets before they drown.
Even with TED requirements, the shrimp industry will continue to be the most wasteful fishery in the world as it is a non-selective vacuum cleaner of the ocean floor.