Date of Award
Engineering and Applied Science
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Dr. Martin O'Connell
In the southeastern United States, skimmer trawls, pusher-head trawls, wing nets, and small try nets (headrope length less than 12-ft (3.66-m)) are exempt from using a turtle excluder device (TED) and instead must adhere to tow time restrictions as a mode to mitigate sea turtle bycatch. However, observer and stranding data indicate that these tow times may often be exceeded and result in mortality of sea turtles. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a notice of proposed rulemaking in December 2016 to extend TED requirements to other trawl types, however there has been limited development of specialized TEDs for these smaller trawls. In anticipation of a regulatory change, we developed and identified multiple versions of a top-opening TED with a minimum width of 28-in (71-cm) and height of 24-in (61-cm) as the best option for small trawl gears. Prototypes were initially equipped within small try nets and tested for gear performance and sea turtle exclusion in Panama City, Florida. The final designs were then tested for target shrimp retention, bycatch reduction, and general usability of TEDs in the commercial fisheries. A paired comparison test was conducted in 8-ft (2.44-m) and 10-ft (3.05-m) try nets aboard the NMFS R/V Caretta, three commercial skimmer trawls in vesselsFarfantepenaeus duorarum) fishery. There was a general reduction of shrimp and bycatch averaging from a minimum loss of 3.31% in the Miami wing net fishery (FV FL-01) to 22.07% in the skimmer trawl fishery (FV LA-01). This dissertation research indicates that TEDs can function properly in small trawl types, however additional studies are recommended to minimize the shrimp loss and improve the overall TED effectiveness specific to each fishery and trawl type evaluated.
Gahm, Meghan P., "The development and evaluation of small specialized turtle excluder devices to reduce sea turtle bycatch in various small shrimp gears" (2019). University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. 2665.