Turtle excluder devices (also known as TEDs) are designed to help turtles swim out of fishing nets if they are accidentally caught. They contain a rigid barrier grid, which is attached to the circumference of the net and guides turtles towards an escape hole either above or below the grid. TEDs are mandatory in the Northern Prawn and Torres Strait Prawn fisheries.
Fishing operations in the Commonwealth Northern Prawn Fishery and Torres Strait Prawn Fishery overlap with the distribution and habitat of turtles. Turtles can become incidentally caught in the trawl gear and become disoriented, unable to escape back through the net mouth.
TEDs provide an escape opening in the top or bottom of the net, allowing turtles to be ejected without having to turn around and swim back through the net mouth.
TEDs utilise the flow of water through the trawl net to guide turtles out of an escape hole. The TED has a metal grid which blocks access to the codend, whilst still allowing prawns to pass through the bars. The metal grid is angled towards the codend, which guides animals out of the escape hole. TEDs allow larger animals such as sharks and rays to escape the net safely.
The AFMA Bycatch Program is available to provide industry with assistance when designing, trialling and implementing the turtle excluder device. Please contact BycatchProgram@afma.gov.au.