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Shrimpers saving turtle population with nets

Posted at 9:06 AM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 11:35:17-05

PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Since the early 1990's, Turtle Excluder Devices have been used to help save the turtle population.

Texas Sea Grant scientist Laura Picariello, says in the early 1970's it was noticed that the turtle population decreasing. TED's were soon created.

"They were actually developed by some shrimpers, that were using them to exclude other things from their nets," Picariello said.

TED's are used on bay and offshore shrimping boats. Picariello says there are about 550 offshore shrimping boats in Texas.

One of them is Port Aransas' Peggy Ann.

Peggy Ann operator Bo Reiter says he's been working on shrimp boats since he was 4 and has only used TEDs while working.

All shrimp boats are required to use TEDs, as mandated by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

"We get these checked out by Texas Parks and Wildlife all the time, to make sure our angle is right," Reiter said. "So that they're angled perfectly so stuff actually travels out, instead of getting stuck."

According to Texas Sea Grant, TEDs are 97% effective.

"It works pretty good, I've never caught a turtle. I mean even big stingrays, it shoots those out too," Reiter said.

TEDs are a simple design, made from regular fisherman's net, with a grid in the middle that allows marine life to slide right through if they get caught in the net.

The downside to them are that shrimpers have noticed a loss of product when implementing the nets.

"From what I've gathered, it did slow the catching down quite a bit. but, I mean you gotta adapt," he said. "You do lose a lot,

"You've got to count in if you're catching grass. that gets covered up with grass so you. you stop catching shrimp and everything because once that gets covered up, it shoots out."

TPWD regulate TEDs on all shrimp boats and periodically check them throughout the year.

Peggy Ann says that if a TED is not approved or used properly, TPWD has the authority to take the equipment and whatever shrimp is caught.