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Better Bycatch Reduction Device Project

Better Bycatch Reduction Devices for the Gulf of Mexico Commercial Shrimp Trawl Fishery

About | Current Certified BRDs | BRD Resources | New BRD Testing | Proposed Gear | Contact

About the Better BRDs Project

Photo: Better Bycatch Reduction ProgramLouisiana and Texas Sea Grant programs are working with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to identify and promote certified bycatch reduction devices (BRDs –“bird”) for use in the shrimp trawl industry.  Current regulations state that each net must have one compliant BRD while fishing within the Gulf of Mexico EEZ.

A BRD is any device or modification that lets finfish escape during tow or before catch is brought onboard. Ideally, it allows for the most fish to escape with minimal loss in shrimp.  A BRD must decrease bycatch by at least 30% weight for NOAA to certify its use.  This is validated through rigorous testing. Sometimes, this means two types of modifications or devices must be used together to reach the minimum reduction amount.  Currently, there are five certified BRDs for use in the Gulf of Mexico .

The Sea Grant offices will work with industry members during outreach and dockside programs to gauge current BRD usage, get ideas for new BRD technologies, and assist shrimpers with current and future BRD usage throughout the Gulf of Mexico.”

Download: Better Bycatch Reduction Devices Annual Report 2023

New designs that are tested through this project and are recommended to NOAA for certification will provide more choices for the shrimp industry to meet federal bycatch requirements.

Project Updates:


The Better BRD project is designed to identify new and novel technologies already in use in the Gulf of Mexico federal shrimp fleet, as well as those nationally and internationally. The Project Team (Sea Grant and NOAA) conducted a ‘BRD Hunt’ through dockside engagement with shrimpers across the Gulf of Mexico to learn about new bycatch reduction modifications being used that could be tested as a part of the project. The BRD Project team also looked at designs used in the North Carolina and Australia shrimp fisheries as possibilities. Through the BRD Hunt, several designs were identified  to test in the Gulf.

NOAA Proof of Concept (POC) Testing

Gear designs that were identified through the BRD Hunt were put through initial testing by NOAA to better understand the gear and its potential applicability to the Gulf shrimp fleet. NOAA conducted ‘dive testing’ in Panama City, where devices were pulled on the R/V Caretta and scientific divers evaluated gear performance. Additional Proof of Concept testing was then conducted on the Caretta during 5-7 day trips in the northern Gulf of Mexico to measure shrimp retention and bycatch reduction capabilities of each device.

New BRD Testing

New BRDs that passed through NOAA-led Proof of Concept testing (Summer/Fall 2022) move to Industry testing.  This Sea Grant-led trial began in 2023 and uses voluntary vessels to test each new BRD during normal operations in the different shrimp fisheries across the Gulf of Mexico. This is an incentivized opportunity to work with researchers open to suggestions on how these potential new gear work for bycatch reduction in their specific fishery. Interested boats should check back here for updates and access to the application.

Louisiana Sea Grant has engaged Lynker to manage the Industry Testing application and contracting processes. Any signed agreements will be explained and honored by them.

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