Fri., June 22, 2012 12:00pm (EDT)

Feds Approve New Fishing Device
By Orlando Montoya and Nicholas Lawrence
Updated: 2 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
A federally approved device allows for the escape of unwanted caught turtles, and reduces the amount of bycatch by nearly 50% tests show. (photo University of Georgia Marine Extension Service)
A federally approved device allows for the escape of unwanted caught turtles, and reduces the amount of bycatch by nearly 50% tests show. (photo University of Georgia Marine Extension Service)
Georgia shrimpers are trying a new device that allows endangered sea turtles to escape nets.

Federal officials recently approved a new version of a so-called TED for national use.

A TED is a Turtle Excluder Device which creates a hole in a shrimp net to let turtles slip through.

The law requires shrimpers to use one and they sometimes grumble about how much shrimp gets lost in the effort to protect turtles.

University of Georgia tests show, the new design allows turtles to escape while also reducing the capture of other species by almost half.

Lisa Liguori of the University of Georgia Marine Extention says, the real benefit is for shrimpers.

"What I find to be so impressive about it is the bycatch reduction," Liguori says. "We know that the turtles escape really well, but when you're seeing that huge reduction in bycatch that's a big benefit."

She says, that benefits turtles and fishermen.

"There's really no point in putting a device in a net that's going to reduce bycatch if it's also going to make you lose product because shrimpers aren't going to want to use it." Liguori says.

Shrimpers don't like having to shift through bycatch or throw-away sea creatures that end up in their nets.

The new TED reduces how much time shrimpers have to spend sifting through bycatch to get at shrimp.

A McIntosh County shrimper, Sinkey Boone, invented the device, now approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.