Inventors: Keenan Ball, Jim Partan
Publication No. Patent Pending
Overview: Offshore fishing traps are set in “trawls” of 10-50 traps and use vertical lines to enable hauling. The US lobster fishery has increasing regulations to reduce the number of vertical lines connecting buoys to lobster traps. Endangered whales can entangle in the lines leading to seasonal closures.
Technology: The On-Call Buoy was developed as a “whale-safe” fishing method, an alternative to closing areas, securing vertical lines on the seafloor until released on command. The On-Call Buoy holds the vertical end line on a spool anchored to the seafloor, thereby reducing the risk of entangling whales in the rope. When the fishing crew is ready to haul the traps, an acoustic signal is used to release the anchored buoy from the seafloor to float to the surface (“On-Call”). Part of the technology is a mechanism to rapidly re-spool and re-deploy the string of traps at sea. The technology could lead to a decrease in seasonal closures as well as prevent the loss of costly gear due to entanglements.