A design change in Turtle Excluder Devices (TED) may ensure that turtles do not enter the trawling nets, and will help the seafood sector overcome the US ban on wild caught shrimps from India’s west coast.
The change in design is being worked out jointly by the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) and Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) as the US has decided to continue with its ban on wild caught shrimps following reports on non-use of TEDs in fishing nets.
"We are working with MPEDA to modify the existing TEDs already in operation in the east coast of the country," CN Ravisankar, Director, CIFT, told BusinessLine. According to him, the results of the field trials conducted off the Andhra Pradesh coast using the CIFT designed TED showed 100 per cent escape of sea turtles that entered the trawl, and catch loss ranging from 2.3 to 10.3 per cent.
The demonstration along the Odisha coast in commercial trawlers has shown that the exclusion rates were 2.5 per cent of the total catch and 2.7 per cent for shrimps. The Institute has trained fishermen in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu on the usage of TED in their fishing nets, he said.
The indigenous TED design was developed with a focus on reducing catch losses, which is a cause of concern for trawler fishermen in adopting the device. However, the trials so far have shown a mean catch loss in the range of 0.52 per cent-0.97 per cent for shrimp and 2.44-3.27 per cent for non shrimp resources, which is considerably less than the loss that ocurred during the operations with imported TED designs, though the catch proportion is expected to change with seasons and the locations, CIFT officials said.
Sources in the sector pointed out that the US team, at the time of inspection, had suggested making modifications in the existing TED models, which the two government agencies are now working on. It is expected that at least 15 days to one month’s time would be taken to come with a new design.
They pointed out that wild caught shrimps are mainly from Kerala, Karnataka and Goa, which account for an insignificant share of the country's export basket vis-a-vis farmed shrimps. At the same time, this offers job opportunities and revenue earnings to fishermen in these regions.
According to seafood exporters, the share of sea-caught wild shrimps was around Rs 2,000 crore per year, while frozen shrimp exports earnings are over Rs 30,000 crore.