Factsheet: reducing the mortality of marine turtles

Posted on 15 September 2020

The need for Turtle Excluder Device legislation in Europe
Accidental catches of sea turtles in fishing nets is one of the major threats to the species, as they often drown once trapped as 'bycatch'. In general, marine turtles are highly vulnerable to anthropogenic impacts, with six of the seven marine turtle species categorised as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered on the IUCN Red List and listed in Appendix I of CITES. Worldwide, bycatch alone is estimated to result in hundreds of thousands of turtle deaths each year, a problem that can be greatly reduced by using a A Turtle Excluder Device (TED).

A TED is a grid that fits into a trawl net whereby the spacing of the bars and angle of the grid are designed to allow shrimps to pass through to the back of the trawl net (or ‘cod-end’), while diverting marine turtles and other large marine fauna through an escape hatch. TEDs exclude at least 97% of the turtles with minimal loss of target catch (less than 2%), whilst increasing the productivity of trawling operations by reducing damage to nets, reducing the crushing of the catch, reducing fuel costs and creating higher market prices for better quality shrimp.

The EU, which is the largest market for fisheries products and the main importer of shrimp in the world, currently has
no regulation requiring TEDs, providing an alternative market for countries that do not use TEDs. Establishing one could potentially save tens of thousands of marine turtles every year, and would support progress toward creating a more sustainable fishing industry in its waters and abroad.

It is urgent for the EU to ensure that effective mitigation measures to reduce marine turtle bycatch are adopted by countries exporting tropical trawl-caught shrimp into the European Union.
Loggerhead turtle
© naturepl.com / Jordi Chias / WWF