In Malaysia, TEDs – short for Turtle Exclusion Device – are making their mark among local fishing communities. At a recent training and demonstration workshop in Sandakan, on the island of Borneo, they were a huge hit. Local communities were asking for TEDs by the dozen. And as each community slowly came forward and joined the fray, sea turtle populations were slowly but surely safeguarded across a major swathe of their range.
So what are TEDs all about?
Generally in social settings, nobody likes to be excluded. So how can it be a good thing? Well, if you’re a sea turtle, being excluded from fishing operations can save your life. Quite a statement, I would say. Imagine yourself as a sea turtle, quietly munching away at delicious sea grass, oblivious to the world around you, when all of a sudden along comes a trawl net with only one thing on its mind: shrimp. And all of a sudden there you are, caught up in the net; struggling to escape; slowly but surely running out of air reserves. (Remember, sea turtles are reptiles and need to breathe.) Fish and shrimp tumble by, destined for the cod end at the rear end of the net. You’re stuck. Net as far as you can see. A bleak outlook all around.
But all of a sudden, ‘BOINK!’ You run up against a metal grid, much like jailhouse bars, and get forced upwards and out through a clever escape chute, free to surface. Free to swim away – and live to tell the tale…
Now there’s an awesome end to what could have been a distinct end to your sea turtle career. And that is exactly what Turtle Excluder Devices are all about; they exclude turtles while enabling fishers to continue to fish and earn a living. And all thanks to an oval metallic grid carefully inserted into a shrimp trawl net.
The Marine Research Foundation is proud to work alongside Malaysia’s Department of Fisheries, with funding support from the Save Our Seas Foundation, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and the GEF Small Grants Facility in Malaysia to eradicate turtle mortality across shrimp trawl fleets.
If you’d like to find out more about how TEDs work, view the Save Our Seas magazine feature here.