Saving Marine Turtles from Guyanese Fishermen’s Nets

by spotmydive

Each year, after a long journey full of dangers, sea turtles come to lay eggs on the beaches of Guyana.

Very fond of jellyfish, they often accidentally swallow plastic bags, confusing them with their favorite prey. Furthermore, the poor turtles are often caught by fishing nets placed at the bottom of the water. And as Guilhem Santelli explains, a mission manager of the association Kap’Natirel «A sea turtle takes fifteen to twenty minutes in apnea when it feeds. But imprisoned in a net, she panics, and we must intervene very quickly, before she faints.»

Sometimes, they manage to free themselves but often with a hook planted in the mouth! Marine turtles are too often victims of the lack of selectivity of fishing trawlers. On the beaches, the eggs buried in the sand are extremely vulnerable and are an esay target for the poachers who do not hesitate to steal them!

But since 2010 Guyanese fishermen equip their boats with a new kind of fishing net, the TED Turtle Excluder Device. With this device, the sea turtles, trapped in the net, are stopped by a grid and directed towards an exit door. Very effective, TED decreased the unwanted catch of these animals by 20 to 40%. Sharks and rays also benefit from this protection. Fishermen also benefit from this new TED system as their sorting work becomes much easier. Since 2010, this system is compulsory in Guyanne.

In 20 years fishing has unintentionally killed more than 8 million sea turtles, we hope that this initiative does not remain isolated, and that all fishermen on earth will imitate their Guyanese colleagues.