Whales are increasingly threatened with extinction for a variety of reasons – in addition to environmental pollution, noise and climate change, fishing is also playing its part in reducing the numbers of these marine giants.

One of the main problems here is that the nets and cages used for lobster and crab fishing repeatedly catch whales in these nets and kill them.

Foto: WhaleSafe
Foto: WhaleSafe

Rope-on-Demand fishing net system from the University of Waterloo

The most sustainable solution would of course be to stop fishing and turn to vegetarian alternatives, as fishing is one of the biggest threats to our ecosystem.

However, as this is unlikely to happen in the near future, a team at the University of Waterloo has been working on an alternative to conventional marine fishing to reduce whale mortality.

WhaleSafe Greentech.LIVE

Their solution is a so-called “rope-on-demand” fishing system. To catch lobsters and crabs, the cages are lowered to the seabed on ropes, where they remain for several days.

Whales often become entangled in the ropes, which are used to localise the cages.

System sinks to the seabed with the cages

The advantage of the WhaleSafe system is that the rope is wound onto a spool, which sinks to the seabed with the cages. As soon as the fisherman wants to retrieve his cages, he sends a signal from the boat to the device, which then uses a magnetic system to release the rope and bring it to the surface.

The magnetic beak, which holds and releases the spool, means that the system saves electricity as it is only used when the device receives a signal.

The WhaleSafe system also won second place in the James Dyson Award in Canada this year.