2023 Northeast Experimental On-Demand Gear System Testing Launched

By fisheries.noaa.gov


A brightly colored rectangular box made of coated wire sits on the back deck of a fishing vessel, The camera is pointed to the rear of the boat, a pier face is to the left of the boat. There are three orange buoys on top of the box, called a "pot", and fishing rope is coiled on deck to the right of the pot.

On-demand (ropeless) lobster pot gear on the deck of a commercial fishing vessel

In August 2022, our science center received an exempted fishing permit allowing up to 100 vessels at a time to help test and improve on-demand gear systems. This effort continues and expands our trials of these systems, which we have been developing with fishermen. On-demand systems remove the vertical line in the water column to reduce the risk of large whale entanglement in American lobster and Jonah crab fisheries.

Between February 1 and April 30, we will be collaborating with up to 30 federally permitted commercial trap/pot vessels to test on-demand (also called ropeless) fishing gear in federal waters that are closed to fishing with static vertical lines. The permit allows participating vessels to test alternatives to static vertical lines in two of the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Restricted Areas.

The specific goals are to:

  • Demonstrate successful retrievals of multi-trap trawls using proven acoustic releases on a variety of experimental on-demand components
  • Collect additional operational data on fishing without static vertical lines, gear location awareness, operational efficiency, cloud storage, and data sharing
  • Assess and improve the ease and accuracy of data collection
  • Provide feedback and recommendations to on-demand gear manufacturers and others in related industries, such as database developers and those working on geolocation technologies, who can use this information to improve and increase performance of their products under commercial fishing conditions.

Testing Methods

To test viability of on-demand gear, participating vessels will fish up to 10 trawls each using on-demand gear. They will fish within federal waters of the South Island Restricted Area and the Massachusetts Restricted Area while these areas are otherwise closed to gear that use vertical lines. During this time, on-demand trap/pot gear set on the bottom will not be marked at the water’s surface, because on-demand gear does not have surface buoys.

Read more at fisheries.noaa.gov