'Ropeless' Lobster Fishing Could Save The Whales. Could It Kill The Industry?

Environment: NPR


And the lobster industry from member station w. c. a. i. eve zubkov reports after three decades of fishing for lobsters in cape cod bay. Rob martin knows his boat. The resolve inside and out only forty feet. It was big when i got up and now it seems small. It's a cold morning and we're heading out to check on his traps which he dropped on the sea floor about a half mile cape cod canal. Like lobstermen here have done. For hundreds of years martin used to check his traps by looking for bullies that are connected by ropes to the traps but now his are gone and he's about to test a rope lewis fishing system to go. Martin opens up app on his phone and sends an acoustic signal to his lobster traps. Fifty feet underwater release success. Okay somewhere down below an air tank inside. A traffic is inflating a balloon. And then the moment we've been waiting for even gets this land loving radio reporter pretty excited along bright orange balloon pops up out of the water. It looks like one of those blow up tubes. That bob's around outside of car dealership by using this technology martin has eliminated the need for vertical ropes. And the danger. That right whale diving for food might get tangled in rope. Scientists say percents of north atlantic. Right whales bear scars from entanglement in the deadly maze created of lobstermen rope and other fishing lines. They encounter on their migration routes because of these dangers to the nearly three hundred and seventy right whales in existence authorities have instituted seasonal fishing closures in waters off new england. Many lobstermen prefer the closures to the technological leap. They would have to make to adopt rope. Pless fishing the technology is like the model chief today and people expect us to be the chest flip tomorrow. This is beth cassani. Executive director of the massachusetts lobster means association. She also says the cost is prohibitive. Rope lescure could cost a single fishermen up to seventy thousand dollars and she says it may be unsafe because without bleeds on the surface fishing boats the dragnets along the floor can get caught on lobstermen traps. We need a scale scientific unbiased feasability study on the whole thing. Despite these challenges lobstermen rob martin wants to keep carrying out his federally funded tests for the northeast fisheries science center in woods hole massachusetts after all. He's catching lobsters. And martin says he understands the stakes. If right whales keep dying current rates the species could reach a point in the next twenty years beyond which it can't recover and lakers shut down the entire lobster. Fishery in order to save the critically endangered whales lobstermen could face their own kind of extinction for npr news.

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