The adoption by crabs of new ropeless traps, presented as a means of protecting whales from entanglement, raises great hopes. Offshore trials are increasing, and technology is beginning to prove itself.
In zone 12 in the south of St. Lawrence Bay, 21 captains will be able to test this new technology this spring. Every fisherman is entitled to 50 experimental traps that can be placed in areas closed due to the presence of whales. When it comes time to get the locker, the crew simply uses the app to send an acoustic signal that initiates the release of buoys attached to the rope and brings them to the surface.
Without a rope constantly suspended in the water, the risk of entanglement is greatly reduced. Betting is vital to the survival of the right whale in the North Atlantic. The species, of which only 336 members remain, is now critically endangered.
The Akkadian Crab Association and the Professional Akkadian Crab Association (APPCA) have joined forces in this pilot project, funded by Fisheries and Oceans.
“We are confident that it will work properly, as all the tests have shown so far,” said Paul Robisho, APPCA’s fisheries adviser.
“We hope to persuade the DFO to increase the number of fishermen and traps in closed areas. The aim is to ensure better coexistence between whale protection and the resilience of the snow crab industry, which is very important for the economy of the Akkadian Peninsula.
The Karako-based engineering firm Corbo has worked to adapt existing technologies to commercial fishing in the region. The trigger speaker system, developed by EdgeTech, was chosen. The use of its marking allows the fisherman to know the depth, slope and temperature of the seabed.
“We looked at what was happening on a planetary scale. We needed technologies adapted to our reality: deep sea, very cold water and long distances, ”explains Paul Robishaw.
In an article published earlier this year, EdgeTech engineer Rob Morris explains that the company is working with fishermen, Canadian and US authorities and numerous environmental organizations on “testing programs off the coast of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, California. and Canada to demonstrate the functionality of the system in real fishing conditions. “
The EdgeTech system was also tested last spring on the side of the Union of Marine Fishermen (FMU) and the Coastal Fleet.
“It works very well, we really didn’t have any problems,” said Pierre Dupuis, general manager of Homarus, a research organization founded by UPM.
“It’s very encouraging, I don’t know if it’s perfect, but it immediately meets our needs.”
Since then, the organization has taken advantage of the Whale Protection Equipment Foundation to order forty ropeless traps and equip twenty boats with this new system. Each of these next-generation crab pots costs about $ 5,000.
“Currently, their use requires special permission, and you can only use them indoors,” said Pierre Dupuis, adding that the ministry is working to change its rules.
He does not expect fishermen to introduce this technology en masse in the near future, particularly because of the price.
“The most avant-garde will accept them, and others will come later. It will take time, we will have to talk to fishermen and show them how it works.
Dr. Michael Moore, a scientist and veterinarian at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, was involved in the development of the prototypes. One of the main problems, he said, will be to ensure the compatibility of different models that are being developed so that fishermen know where all the traps are and do not leave their equipment in one place.
“The more these systems have a standard way of informing other ships about where the ship is deployed, the better,” he said.
“I think the technology has advanced so much that it’s easy to use. And I think the snow crab industry is capitalized enough to go commercial. The price of recovery units is a significant barrier. I hope that with more volume and harmonization of technologies, the equipment will become more accessible. “
Responding to questions about progress, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it was satisfied with the “high level of interest” in the Whale Protection Equipment Adoption Fund.
“Information on funded projects will be available on the DFO website once all funding agreements have been completed.”