Innovation in the commercial fishing space to ensure sustainable fishing practices has lead to the technological development of ropeless or rope-on-demand gear. This gear allows fishing in areas closed to traditional fishing practices due to the detection of the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. It does this by removing the rope from the water column since all the gear remains on the ocean floor until a fishermen triggers the acoustic release of the MOBI (Modular Ocean Based Instrument) which brings the buoy and unit to the surface which is attached to the crab or lobster trap/trawl and can be retrieved easily.
Ashored's Acoustic Release Above Allows for Rope on Command
The technology is a direct response to the threat posed by gear entanglements to endangered whales. The Canadian Wildlife Federation has been testing and promoting its use with fishermen. However, there has been just one problem. It is illegal to put a trap on the bottom of the ocean without a marker at the surface. Of course the use of that marker line is what's dangerous for marine mammals. So the ability to use technology that doesn't use that buoy line is technically illegal, unless you're fishing under an experimental permit. That's what's been going on the last few years, experimental permits to demonstrate the effectiveness of these systems.
This month the department of fisheries and oceans proposed regulatory changes that will remove this requirement thus allowing deployment as a license condition or variation order. This first step, is the most important step, because this is a long-standing regulation for fixed gear fisheries is to have a surface marker at the surface. We can see that the fisheries is changing. An estimated million pounds of snow crab have been landed in Canada so far using on command gear. The proposed rule change, clears the deck for more.