Blue Ocean Gear Inc.
Enabling fishers to track and monitor gear to protect marine ecosystems and biodiversity
An estimated 640,000 metric tons of fishing gear are lost in the ocean every year, resulting in economic losses for fishers and adverse impacts on the ocean environment. It is estimated that lost fishing gear accounts for upwards of 50% of marine plastic pollution. Despite best efforts to manage losses, fishing gear can be separated from vessels due to storms, strong currents or other factors outside a fishers’ control. Lost gear can continue “ghost fishing,” trapping and entangling marine life, damaging habitat and posing hazards to ocean navigation. Blue Ocean Gear Inc. has developed technology to help fishers track and monitor their gear, reducing these impacts on the ocean environment.
Blue Ocean Gear designs and engineers Smart Buoy technologies that enable near real-time tracking and monitoring of fixed fishing and aquaculture gear, including offshore lines, traps and nets. These buoys alert fishers when gear has moved outside intended fishing areas, allowing for quick retrieval and avoiding hours or weeks of aimless searching. In addition to tracking the location of fishing gear, the buoys collect a variety of oceanographic data that support ocean businesses in more efficient and cost-effective operations, both on- and off-shore.
A US$ 500,000 investment from Conservation International Ventures will support Blue Ocean Gear’s product development and rollout of an expanded hardware and software suite, including buoy models with flexible sensor packages at multiple price points, new vessel-based receivers, and wireless hardware charging stations. Proceeds from the financing will also support new engineering and operations hires and reinforce existing team capacity. Conservation International Ventures’ investment is part of a US$ 2,000,000 seed round led by Good Growth Ventures and others.
Even a small reduction in ghost fishing has been shown to have a direct effect on the size of local fish stocks, enhancing both ecosystem health and local economic health. By enabling near-real time monitoring and tracking of fishing gear, the Smart Buoy system mitigates the ecological impacts of lost fishing gear on marine species and ecosystems while enabling vessel owners to avoid search and replacement costs and potential regulatory fines associated with gear lost at sea. Over the next three years, Blue Ocean Gear aims to deploy its SmartBuoy technologies with an estimated 700 vessels, covering an area of 160 million hectares, and aims to reduce fishing gear losses by more than 50 percent.