A new oval bycatch reduction device might spell relief for diamondback terrapins
Diamondback terrapins have always found it hard to catch a break.
Up through the first third of the last century, terrapins were at the top of the list of luxury foods. Joseph Mitchell had a 1930s piece in The New Yorker reporting on a firm in the Fulton Fish Market that sold 2,000 quarts of diamondback terrapin stew a year.
A patchwork of state and federal regulations keep America’s only truly estuarine turtle from being served up as seafood, variously classifying terrapin as endangered, threatened or species of concern throughout the species’ East Coast range.
Randy Chambers explains that diamondback terrapins continue to be unintended victims of the seafood industry, as they end up drowning as bycatch in crab traps. Chambers, the director of William & Mary’s Keck Environmental Field Laboratory, is leading a team that’s trying to find a way to keep turtles out of the traps in the first place…