R.I. innovator develops ‘ropeless’ lobster fishing expertise

HAYDEN RADKE, an engineer at DBV Technology, works with Ropeless RISER technology in Narragansett Bay. / COURTESY ROPELESS SYSTEMS
HAYDEN RADKE, an engineer at DBV Technology, works with Ropeless RISER expertise in Narragansett Bay. / COURTESY ROPELESS SYSTEMS

NORTH KINGSTOWN — Traditional lobster and crab traps function by means of a easy mechanism, utilizing ropes and buoys. But the traps have created a multitude of issues for marine life.

Harold “Bud” Vincent, president of DBV Technology LLC in North Kingstown, believes he has the answer: one in all his firm’s signature merchandise, the RISER.

The RISER – distant instrumentation and submerged gear restoration” – had largely been utilized by navies and oceanographers, however Vincent noticed use for the expertise for fishing. To tailor this expertise, Vincent co-founded Ropeless Systems Inc., the place he serves as chief expertise officer.

While conventional lobster and crab traps are rigged by rope to a buoy, the Ropeless RISER uses underwater acoustics to ship indicators from a fishing vessel to gear on the ocean ground. This sign triggers an underwater bag on the lure to inflate with air, bringing the fishing gear to the floor for unloading and reuse.

With conventional traps, “those buoys and lines cause entanglements of whales and other marine animals, resulting in injury and death to the animals,” Vincent mentioned.

Passing ships may rip a buoy or line off conventional traps, and fishers typically depart the deserted gear on the ocean ground. 

“The gear is just not valuable enough for anyone to worry about trying to get it back,” Vincent mentioned. Still, it poses an environmental hazard. 

Discarded fishing supplies, often known as “ghost gear,” comprise at the least 10% of ocean litter, in accordance with the World Wildlife Foundation. In addition to trapping and killing animals, ghost gear damages ocean habitats similar to coral reefs. 

Though nonetheless within the analysis and improvement part, with a patent pending and different patents within the works, the expertise has been in use for a few 12 months and a half in industrial fishing. Vincent estimates round 10 to fifteen completely different fishers have trialed the gear in maritime Massachusetts, Maine, Scotland and Canada.

At prospects’ requests, the corporate has additionally tailored the expertise to show on chart plotters, which permit fishers to see the gear’s place on the ocean ground. 

To Vincent, the financial and environmental advantages of the expertise are clear. In addition to lowering environmental considerations, he mentioned, the Ropeless RISER can save money and time spent on changing misplaced gear.

But Vincent’s audience hasn’t been as straightforward to promote on the expertise.

“It’s a very difficult, emotional topic for a lot of people,” Vincent mentioned, “because many fishermen are completely, adamantly opposed to trying this new type of technology.”

Some could also be hesitant to half with conventional fishing strategies, Vincent mentioned, and at round $2,500 for an order of 20 traps, the associated fee is usually a deterrent.

Despite this resistance, the expertise has fielded further curiosity, in accordance with Vincent.

“We are generating revenue, but we are severely impacted by the global electronic chip shortage,” Vincent mentioned, “so we’re having customers requesting product right now, and we’re not able to generate it.” 

The identical chips used within the Ropeless RISER are used to fabricate vehicles, TVs and cellphones, leaving the corporate to compete with industrial giants similar to Toyota and Samsung for the elements. 

But if the corporate can enhance manufacturing and gross sales, the corporate intends to decrease the price of the expertise, Vincent mentioned.

Manufacturing will largely happen in Maine, the place Ropeless Systems relies due to the state’s massive lobster-fishing trade, with engineering improvement dealt with in Rhode Island.

UPDATE: Corrects Harold “Bud” Vincent’s title

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN workers author. You could attain her at

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