Lobster Lift

North Atlantic Right Whales, whose primary habitat is off the coast of America’s Northeastern shore, are facing extinction. Fishing techniques are big contributors to their decline. Lobster fishing typically uses nets that can ensnare whales, and North Atlantic Right Whales habitat largely intersects with prime lobster habitat in the United States.  In a study completed in 2019, it is estimated that there are a mere 500 North Atlantic Right Whales remain; over 83% of the population had been entangled in a fishing net,  with some encounters being fatal. Entangled females are also less likely to reproduce because they focus on recovering from entanglement rather than breeding, which means that even if the female whale survives not enough calves are being born to sustain population numbers. 

LobsterLift is a lobster trap being developed by a group of engineers and whale enthusiasts to remove the danger posed by lobster trap netting. Their lobster trap is completely lineless and can propel itself to the surface with a self-inflating balloon when the trap is summoned  by an acoustic signal sent  by a fisherman positioned about the trap in a boat. At no point is netting or fishing line used for lobster harvesting, completely eliminating all opportunities for entanglement of NARWs.  The most inhibiting factor for this technology is, at present, its cost. The prototype cost $20,000 and estimates for commercialization put a single trap at around $1000. A regular lobster trap costs under $100, so the cost is, to say the least, prohibitive to fishing operations of almost any scale. It is worth noting that LobsterLift is still in the development stage, so this could change, but it is likely that the final product needs to be economically competitive with a traditional trap in order to establish itself as a viable alternative. 


Howle, L. E., Kraus, S. D., Werner, T. B., & Nowacek, D. P. (2019). Simulation of the entanglement of a North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) with fixed fishing gear. Marine Mammal Science, 35(3), 760-778; Kenney

R. D. (2018). What if there were no fishing? North Atlantic right whale population trajectories without entanglement mortality. Endangered Species Research, 37, 233-237.


See also:


Surrey-Marsden, C., Accardo, C., White, M., George, C., Gowan, T., Hamilton, P. K., … & Ward, L. (2018). North Atlantic Right Whale Calving Area Surveys: 2016/2017 Results.


Biodiversity, Industry/Natural Commodities, Internet of Things, Monitoring