Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Shrimp are the most economically valuable internationally-traded seafood commodity, and wild-caught, trawled shrimp make up almost half of the ~6.6 million metric tons of annual global production. Shrimp trawling is responsible for one-third of the world’s total fisheries bycatch, leading many to consider shrimp trawling to be the single most destructive fishing practice in the world. Though the bycatch of large marine animals can be significantly reduced by use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) on shrimp trawls, current TED designs are ineffective at reducing the capture of smaller organisms which represent a large portion of the total bycatch. To further reduce bycatch in the United States Gulf of Mexico shrimp trawl fleet, a variety of bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) are currently being used in conjunction with TEDs. I evaluated the efficiency of a new TED design, intended to reduce bycatch and maintain target shrimp catch. The new TED model is characterized by 5-cm spacing between flat bars, as opposed to the current industry standard of 10-cm spacing between round bars. Comparative towing experiments under standard commercial shrimp trawling operations in waters off of Georgia, Texas and Mississippi during the summer of 2012 demonstrated shrimp losses or gains of -4.32%, +6.07%, -1.58% respectively and an overall reduction in the capture weight of sharks (41.1-99.9%), rays and skates (76.5-93.4%) and horseshoe crabs (100%). These experiments were limited in time and space, and therefore not fully representative of fishing conditions throughout the year, but this study demonstrates the new TED’s effect on the catch rates of target shrimp and bycatch. This thesis research should lead to a broader understanding of the benefits of using reduced spacing flat bar TEDs in the U.S. shrimp trawl industry.



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