The development and operational use of rope-less fishing (marking and retrieving traps
without buoys or end lines) that could eliminate or minimize trap/pot gear entanglements, the cause of most North Atlantic right whale and other large whale entanglement deaths within the US EEZ and globally.
The North Atlantic right whale population is in crisis with less than 450 animals remaining and no calf production in 2017. A major reason for their rapid decline since 2010 is chronic entanglement in buoy and end lines of fixed fishing gear. Approximately, 85% of right whales show entanglement scars. On the west coast of the United States, where whale numbers are increasing, humpback whales have the highest vulnerability to fixed-gear entanglements.
Worldwide, entanglements are a chronic problem wherever there is overlap between trap/pot gear fishing and high whale concentrations. Entanglements cause sub-lethal effects and are detrimental to the viability of even the most robust whale populations. A promising method to prevent entanglement is to employ a fishing method that involves marking and retrieving traps without buoys or end lines, referred to as ropeless fishing.
Applications in this subtopic might include activities and/or technologies that provide a safe, legal, practical and affordable alternative system to: (1) mark the location of traps on the sea floor, and (2) retrieve traps without a surface buoy or end line. Regardless of proposed ropeless fishing method, approach also needs to address gear conflicts, which requires information on the position and orientation of traps or ends of trawl to both fixed and mobile fishers.