Lobster pots becoming research platforms | State News

Massachusetts boasts more than 1,200 commercially licensed lobstermen who set more than 300,000 traps in state waters each season  and most of the gear is set without much in the way of credible scientific data on habitat or ocean conditions.

A project call LobsterNet is looking to change the old world approach to the analytics of harvesting lobsters by attaching sensors to the traps to collect data on ocean conditions such as acidity, or pH, and temperature.

The enhanced traps, which automatically will upload the marine data to a satellite network when pulled from the water, will be woven into a data collection network to help advance understanding of ocean conditions and potentially develop new business elements of a "Blue Economy."

"It's really kind of a transformative," said Tom Balf, a Gloucester-based marine consultant on the LobsterNet project. "We're taking an existing device, a lobster trap, and turning it into a research platform. At the same time, we're adding value to the existing practice of going out and putting traps in the water by turning lobstermen into data collectors and researchers."

LobsterNet received a $133,156 grant from the state Seaport Economic Council on Tuesday to begin developing and deploying the low-cost network of lobster pots that can collect and distribute key environmental data for fishermen and researchers alike.

The project's other partners are Gloucester Innovation, the UMass Gloucester Marine Station, the Angle Center for Entrepreneurship a....

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