Annapolis, MD (May 10, 2011) – The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would like to remind recreational crabbers to install the required Turtle Excluder Device (TED) on their crab pots.
As warm weather arrives, waterfront property owners along Chesapeake Bay tributaries will set crab pots in anticipation of catching, steaming and enjoying Maryland’s signature delicacy. Every spring and summer, DNR receives reports of diamondback terrapins that are trapped and drown in some of these pots.
“Our State reptile continues to suffer the effects of nesting habitat loss and high nest predation,” said DNR Terrapin Ecologist Scott Smith. “The very least we can do as individuals is to install Turtle Excluder Devices on our waterfront crab pots, as required.”
Under normal circumstances, diamondback terrapins can live for more than 50 years, but they can not survive when trapped underwater without access to the surface. Abandoned crab pots have been found containing as many as 49 drowned terrapins. This level of mortality seriously reduces terrapin populations.
A TED is a rectangular frame made of wire or plastic with interior dimensions not to exceed 1¾ inches in height and 4¾ inches in length. They function by not allowing most terrapins to get their shell through the opening into the crab pot, while still allowing crabs to enter. A crab pot with correctly installed TEDS will catch just as many crabs and will not drown terrapins. Commercial crab pots are prohibited from Maryland tributaries, the preferred habitat for terrapins.
In a 2009, DNR recreational crab pot survey performed a decade after DNR enacted the regulation requiring the installation of a TED to each funnel of any crab pot used by a waterfront property owner. Compliance was low, at 22 percent and 23 percent of landowners surveyed had more than the legal number (2) of crab pots attached to their docks. When setting crab pots this season, remember to check for TEDs in each funnel and be sure to ask for them when purchasing new crab pots. For more information about this regulation, visit http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/pdfs/2010TerrapinBrochure.pdf.