Ashored is focused on improving the sustainability of the commercial fishery through the development of user-friendly and purpose-built innovations. Currently, Ashored is addressing issues of marine animal entanglements, derelict fishing gear, and the related challenges to the industry and governance. Ashored is developing a bottom-bound ropeless fishing system to minimize the risk of whale entanglements and trap loss/damage, while allowing fishers to fish in zones closed to fixed fishing gear. Ashored retrofits existing lobster and crab traps with underwater buoys that can be triggered to the surface using an active-retrieval release – this permits the buoy and connecting rope to rise to the surface where fishermen can use existing onboard equipment and processes to retrieve the trap and prepare it for redeployment. Ashored’s buoys use machine learning to collect data and make recommendations, and use sonar and geo-tracking to locate lost traps.
In trap fishing, unattended ropes running from the ocean surface to ocean floor can/has led to (often fatal) marine animal entanglements and ghost gear. At current levels, ghost fishing is estimated to kill/cost 4.5 percent of annual harvest, thus reducing the available quotas for harvest sustainability. Ashored’s solutions are MOBI and ATLAS — an underwater buoy system that can be recalled to the surface upon command. By preventing fishing lines from extending throughout the water column, gear will not be subjected to harsh storm conditions and marine life will be able to pass through fishing waters without risk.
The current process for setting, tracking, and logging lobster and crab traps is inefficient and costly. Along with active and passive retrieval releases, MOBI is being designed to use machine learning to track key variables such as location, date, weather, tides, and water temperature. By using this historical catch data, Ashored will be able to provide lobster and crab fishermen with recommendations on the most effective and efficient conditions and locations to drop their traps, thus increasing their yields and income.
An estimated 8 to 10 percent of fixed fishing gear is lost each year (worldwide) to propeller damage, storms/currents dragging the buoys to deeper waters where the buoys become submerged, and competitor sabotage. Fishers bear the costs of replacing their frequently lost/damaged gear and the opportunity costs associated with waiting for replacement government tags. Traps left behind on the ocean floor can continue to ghost-fish for years. To address these issues and prevent potential gear overlay, Ashored has developed ATLAS, an RFID and sonar-based gear location, identification, and retrieval system.