The California Ocean Protection Council authorized the disbursement of $1.825 million USD to four projects designed to reduce entanglement risk for whales in sea turtles in fishing gear.  From this 1.825 million, $200,000 will be allocated to the development of a ropeless fishing portal and $450,000 to strengthen and expand the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s California based ropeless gear library.

The additional funding to increase the gear library’s ropeless inventory was necessary due to the increased interest expressed from California Dungeness crab harvesters to trial ropeless systems in real fishing conditions.  This increase in interest means that it now exceeds the inventory available to lend.

Over the last couple years, at-sea trials of the Sub Sea sonics and Guardian Ropeless systems under a California Experimental Fishing Permit (EFP) had demonstrated a 98% retrieval success rate resulting in virtually no gear loss, all while not impacting the crab harvesting rate.  The increased financial support will mean that more ropeless systems will be available for harvesters to trial, an important step towards the goal of authorizing their commercial use in 2025.

The four projects allocated funding and funding totals according to the California Ocean Protection Council press release are:

  • Up to $200,000 to develop a ropeless fishing management portal.
  • Up to $1,000,000 to purchase manufactured line to support line marking requirements for the commercial Dungeness crab fishery.
  • Up to $200,000 via a subaward to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF) to support large whale entanglement response.
  • Up to $450,000 via a subaward to NMSF to strengthen and expand a ropeless fishing gear library.

Read more from the press release below.