U.S. Efforts to Develop Ropeless Fishing Gear Technology
Meghan Gahm, Kristy Long, Caroline Good, Eric Matzen, Henry Milliken, and Sean Hayes
Bycatch in fishing gear is the leading source of human-caused mortality for marine mammals.? Large whales, such as endangered North Atlantic right whales, can become entangled in static buoy lines associated with fixed gear fisheries (e.g., trap/pot, gillnet).? The U.S. has implemented various mitigation measures to reduce entanglement risk, including time area closures, where fixed gear fisheries that use vertical buoy lines are prohibited. One emerging solution that both reduces risk to whales and alleviates such closures is ?ropeless? or ?on-demand? fishing systems that do not use static vertical buoy lines. These systems are a gear-based solution to reduce entanglement risk by decreasing the amount of buoy lines associated with traditional trap/pot or gillnet gear. These systems use alternative modes of deploying and retrieving gear. The U.S. is currently working collaboratively with the commercial fishing industry and non-government organizations (NGOs) to develop and test ropeless systems from various fishing gear manufacturers.