Helping fishers & humpback whales coexist: Closing mitigation gap

Two innovative ropeless fishing systems will be trialled in the NSW Ocean Trap & Line fishery during the 2024 humpback whale migration season to help assess the practicality of such gear to help mitigate fishery interactions with whales.

Previous NSW gear trials indicated that galvanic time release submerged headgear is impractical for use in specific areas (e.g. offshore rocky reefs) of the fishery. The 2024 trials will test two new systems: LiftLabs LLC and Ashored. Both technologies allow fishers to acoustically release submerged headgear from their boats and offer range finding capabilities to better pinpoint the location of their ascending gear.

LiftLabs uses an acoustically inflated liftbag attached to a trap to bring it to the sea surface without ropes, while Ashored uses an additional cage which contains a fisher’s ropes/buoys to attach alongside a trap. These devices have shown promising results in North American fisheries in helping prevent fishery interactions with North Atlantic Right Whales.

These gear trials will help provide a basis to introduce and potentially adapt new ropeless fishing technology into Australian fisheries that may help prevent whale entanglements.

Stay tuned for more updates as trials progress!

The Helping Fishers and Humpback Whales Coexist project is supported through grant funding from the Australian Government.


East Coast Whale Entanglement Mitigation

The East Coast Whale Entanglement Mitigation Program has been initiated in NSW to respond to the issue of entanglement with NSW set fishing gear.

2023 Ropeless

OceanWatch was awarded an educational travel bursary from FRDC to attend the 2023 Ropeless Consortium in Nova Scotia, Canada with five trap fisher representatives.

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