September 26, 2023

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Halifax firm pilots new know-how to trace lobster traps

Halifax firm pilots new know-how to trace lobster traps

A Halifax startup is testing out new know-how geared toward serving to the fishing business get well misplaced lobster traps and different fishing gear that may be lethal to marine life.

The corporate, Marine Pondering, has launched a pilot venture that entails tagging the traps with high-tech gadgets. The tags ship alerts to specifically designed consoles on fishing vessels that enable crews to watch the place their tools is utilizing their telephones or different gadgets.

“Nearly each fisherman loses traps of their season, so there’s a huge financial driver behind it,” mentioned Yuan Yao, a product director with the corporate. “So you may establish them and retrieve them, stopping that loss from occurring.”

The initiative is receiving $250,000 from Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s ghost-gear fund, which helps tasks focusing on misplaced or discarded fishing tools.

It’s estimated that between 600,000 and 800,000 metric tonnes of ghost gear goes into the world’s oceans yearly, the division says. A non-profit group known as Coastal Motion collected greater than 32 tonnes of misplaced gear on shorelines and in waters round Nova Scotia final yr. 

When lobster traps and different fishing tools is misplaced within the ocean, “it attracts extra fish into it they usually cannot get out, and in flip it attracts extra, and it creates this horrible state of affairs,” Yao mentioned, including that ropes and different gear could be a hazard to whales.

Monetary incentive

The corporate is testing its tools with three lobster fishers this season. One in every of them is 63-year-old Jamie Osborne, from Japanese Passage, N.S, who has fished lobster for 40 years.

An enormous motive he is within the know-how is due to the monetary hit he takes when he loses traps.

“Nicely if it can assist me discover my gear — as a result of they’re costly to purchase, like they’re $300 a lure, that is what they price — and if this can assist me retrieve it, I am all for it,” he mentioned.

A fisherman wearing a camouflage baseball cap points to a stack of five metal lobster traps with blue mesh to his right.
Jamie Osborne says the gadgets are a profit as a result of metallic lobster traps are costly to interchange and if they’re misplaced. (Brian McKay/CBC)

Osborne additionally makes wood traps himself, however they nonetheless price round $60 in supplies.

“I’ve misplaced as excessive as 12 or 15 in a season however final season was good. I solely misplaced 5, I believe,” he mentioned. “Different fishing boats will run throughout the road or the buoy and it will get round their prop and cuts it off, so then it is gone. You’ll be able to’t get it. In order that’s how we lose 99 per cent of ours.”

All misplaced gear have to be reported to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which provides further work for the crew.

Hopes for sustainability

Osborne’s daughter Ashley has fished with him for the previous 12 years. She’s eager to see the event of any know-how that may assist maintain the fishery.

“I need to maintain fishing, my youngsters would possibly need to fish. This all impacts it. Small lobsters can crawl into the lure. They are going to by no means develop to dimension, so in the event that they’re down there on the backside they’re caught there and no one is aware of,” she mentioned.

A woman is shown on a fishing boat talking to two men in bright red jackets.
Ashley Osborne says fish get can caught in misplaced traps in addition to smaller lobsters which will by no means develop to maturity. She is hoping the know-how helps enhance the fishery’s sustainability. (Brian McKay/CBC)

Fishing crews at the moment mark the place their gear is on GPS methods however Yao defined these methods can have their limitations.

“While you deploy a lure into the water, you file on the GPS. However when a storm state of affairs occurs, that lure bought moved away so that you would not know precisely the place it’s anymore,” he mentioned.

The tagging gadgets will be capable of present places that retrieval corporations can work with to assist get well the gear by sending down divers or remote-controlled underwater automobiles.

The system additionally mechanically digitizes the placement info, eliminating the necessity for fishing crews to manually file GPS places.

The corporate says it hopes to market the tags with a price ticket of round $40, with a view to maintain the system economical.

It is usually exploring the potential for recording further info on the gadgets, corresponding to ocean temperature or the exact places of a crew’s most efficient fishing spots.

The corporate plans to broaden the pilot venture to 25 fishing crews subsequent season.