Today, NOAA Fisheries announced a delay in the effective date for the Final Rule requiring skimmer trawl vessels 40 feet and greater in length to use turtle excluder devices (TEDs). The effective date is now August 1, 2021 instead of April 1, 2021.
Due to safety and travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the NOAA Fisheries gear team has not been able to complete in-person TED training workshops to help skimmer trawl fishermen install and use TEDs in their nets. If a TED is not installed properly, it will not allow turtles to escape the net.
This delay in effective date is necessary to provide NOAA Fisheries with additional time to prepare and implement a modified strategy for training fishermen and for responding to TED installation and maintenance problems when the regulations go into effect. Providing fishermen with the proper training needed to install their TEDs will aid sea turtle conservation.
NOAA Fisheries is also considering taking additional action to protect sea turtles in skimmer trawl fisheries. Specifically, NOAA Fisheries is reconsidering the potential expansion of TED requirements for skimmer trawl vessels less than 40 feet in length and whether additional rulemaking is currently warranted.
The Final Rules, frequently asked questions, and fishery bulletins may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office website at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.