California’s Blue Ocean Gear has created a new type of smart buoy that can track and monitor all types of lost ‘ghost’ fishing gear at sea.
According to its creators, the small, three-pound Blue Ocean buoys are just seven inches in diameter, don’t require any special training to use, and are tough enough to handle the harshest ocean conditions.
What’s more, these smart buoys can also track ocean temperatures, depth, movement, even how much has been caught.
Ghost fishing gear are nothing but lost fishing nets, lines or pots that linger in the oceans for a considerable time before breaking-up.
It’s estimated that about 640,000 metric tons of ghost nets are generated each year and these cause a slow death to countless marine creatures and financial losses to fishermen.
Blue Ocean Gear is hoping to change this with its new smart buoys that can track and monitor all types of deployed gear and report its location directly to a cell phone or website.
“All the information is collected in a database,” notes company founder and CEO Kortney Opshaug. “We have both a mobile app that you can access from your phone or a web interface that allows you to see more of the data, charts and things like that.”
“Most of the buoys have satellite transmission, but some also have radio transmission and we’re working more and more with that. They’re slightly more cost effective, and we can create networks out on the water that are talking to one another.”
The smart buoys, which first hit the water in 2015, were tested by two vessels during the 2020-2021 golden king crab season in the Aleutian Islands to help refine the software and communications settings.
The automated system identified several pieces of errant gear, including a line that had severed. It allowed the recovery in real time of nearly 100 pounds of floats and lines that would otherwise have been lost.
Image and content: Alaska Journal of Commerce/Blue Ocean Gear