Canada’s Ocean Supercluster Announces $1.4M ROC Fishing System Project


The innovative solution to vertical line entanglements, plastic pollution, and ghost fishing caused by abandoned, lost, and discarded fishing gear that pose threats to ocean species including the Right Whale

Today, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster announced the $1.4M ROC Fishing System Project. This Nova Scotia-led project will develop and commercialize ropeless or rope-on-command (ROC) fishing solutions to help address global problems including vertical line entanglements, plastic pollution, and ‘ghost fishing’ caused by abandoned, lost, and discarded fishing gear.

Vertical line entanglements account for 85 per cent of North American Right Whale deaths with severe impacts on other marine animals like sea turtles, seals, porpoises, dolphins and other whale species. Abandoned, lost, and discarded fishing gear is the biggest plastic polluter in the ocean resulting in seven hundred thousand tons of ocean waste/plastics per year. Contributing to this challenge, lost gear continues to “ghost fish” and is estimated to be directly responsible for 10 per cent decline in global fish stocks, reducing available catch quotas and breaking the traceability of sustainable fishing practice.

Led by Ashored Inc., with NL-based partner eSonar Inc., the ROC Fishing System Project team will work together to take a traditional vertical fishing line connected to lobster and crab traps and coil it on the seafloor in a contained unit with a recovery buoy. In addition to this hardware solution, is a sophisticated data analytics software platform monitoring when the gear was deployed, when it was retrieved, and its location. The project will result in a suite of technologies to provide trap-based crab and lobster fishers the means to pursue their fishery effectively and efficiently while, at the same time, addressing global fishing issues. The ROC Fishing System Project will be instrumental in protecting marine species at risk from buoy rope entanglements, and working towards a safe, transparent, and sustainable fixed-trap fishing industry.

With a total project value of $1.4 million, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster will provide $650 thousand in funding to the project with the balance coming from industry partners, marking the 38th Ocean Supercluster project announced to date.

This ROC Fishing System Project will support small coastal communities reliant on the fisheries through job creation, sales, distribution and supply chain partnerships and an overall improvement to their existing fisheries. It will also propel two Canadian-owned companies, Ashored and eSonar into global market leaders, enhance research, development and manufacturing capabilities while positioning Canada as a leader in ropeless fishing.

Quotes:

“Through this new initiative, the Ocean Supercluster is supporting the development of an innovative system that will transform the fishing industry. Congratulations to these two Canadian companies that will help position Canada as a world leader in sustainable ocean technology and help find solutions to global challenges.” – The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“Canada’s Ocean Supercluster is a national network of almost 450 organizations who are working together to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges in ocean. This innovative Rope-on-Command Fishing System solution will help reduce threats to species at risk including the North American Right Whale and is an example of how Ocean Supercluster members are collaborating to address ocean health while also creating new economic opportunity.” – Kendra MacDonald, CEO, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

“Ashored is excited to be partnering with E-Sonar and Canada’s Ocean Supercluster at the forefront of the global drive towards healthy and sustainable oceans in bringing our Rope-on-Command (ROC) system to market. We know healthy oceans are essential for healthy lives and the advancements in technology developed by Ashored and E-Sonar as part of this collaboration are driving real change in the fixed gear fisheries. The Ashored ROC system not only removes vertical lines used in the fixed gear fisheries; saving the lives of endangered and entangled marine animals, and reducing ocean waste and ghost gear, but also is a means of collecting, analyzing, and reporting on catch data.” – Aaron Stevenson, CEO of Ashored Inc.

“eSonar is excited to collaborate with Ashored and the Ocean Supercluster to support the Development of a Ashored’s Rope-on-Command Fishing System that protects the endangered right whale. Integrating eSonar’s technical capability with Ashored’s Rope-on-Command solution will provide a cost-effective option to eliminate the suspended rope entanglement hazard for endangered Right Whales. This environmentally sustainable solution optimizes lobster and crab yield while making the ocean a safer place for endangered species.” – Gary Dinn, CTO of eSonar Inc