Close up of lobster held in hands of a fisherman

Key Takeaways

  • The NEFSC On-Demand Gear Library lends ropeless pot/trap systems to lobster and crab fishermen to test the gear and provide feedback on gear modifications and fishing techniques.
  • In 2022, the program’s third year, over 1000 hauls of ropeless gear was conducted in real fishing conditions with a 91% overall retrieval success rate.
  • This program has greatly increased the effectiveness of traps through fisher feedback and is also currently testing gear marking technologies.
  • To access the free program and train and provide feedback on ropeless systems, contact the NEFSC On-Demand Gear Library.

The greatest threat to the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW) are human-caused mortality as a result of either ship strikes or entanglement in buoy lines from fishing gear. Regulations that limit the amount of buoy lines in the water directly impact U.S. pot and trap fisheries off the eastern seaboard where NARW migrate.

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) On-Demand Gear Library lends ropeless pot/trap systems to lobster and crab fishermen free of charge in return for feedback on how different types of system fish and how they can be improved. This resource has led to a substantial increase in the effectiveness of traps through modification of their design to make them easier to set and haul and more reliable when being retrieved. In 2022, over 1000 hauls using ropeless systems were conducted by fishers participating in this NEFSC program with an overall 91% successful retrieval rate.

To learn more, visit the NEFSC On-Demand Gear Library website and consider donating ropeless gear. If you are a lobster or crab fishermen in the northeast U.S. and want to have an opportunity to influence the development of ropeless systems and become trained on how to use them, you can request partnering with the program on their website.