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Every year, in rivers, ocean, bays and in deeper waters, thousands of crab, lobster and fish traps are lost. Fisherman lose anywhere from 10-70% of their traps annually and, given the use of long-lasting synthetic material in trap construction, traps can last up to 15 years. Year after year, lost traps rest at the bottom of the waterway capturing sea animals that will not be harvested. This reduces the potential catch for waterman and the overall population of marine life.
Reasearch has documented the extent of lost and abandoned blue crab traps and the effect on entrapped animals in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay. Over four consecutive winters, fishermen were hired to recover lost traps in the Bay removed almost 32,000 traps which contained almost 32,000 animals. However, the issue of lost and abandoned traps is not unique to the Chesapeake Bay – it is a global problem in almost all trap fisheries.
Mobjack aims to change this dynamic. Through the revolutionary application of
Research has shown that other methods of providing escape vents for animals captured in lost traps, such as plywood or rot cord, are prone to failure either by degrading too quickly or not at all. PHA is consumed by naturally occurring bacteria present in marine
environments, which means that biopanels constructed of PHA have a high level of certainty of dissolving and providing an avenue for escape.
PHA biopanels have an added benefit of lasting longer if regularly fished. This is because the bacteria feeding on the PHA have inhibited or delayed growth when exposed to UV light during trap retrieval requiring constant regrowth of bacteria on biopanels of active traps. Lost traps however, remain on the bottom, out of UV light exposure where populations of bacteria can proliferate and more quickly consume the PHA.
Mobjack has developed biopanels for a number of fisheries including blue crabs, lobster, Dungeness crab, black sea bass, and stone crab as well as a universal biopanel to fit most trap fisheries worldwide. Our research partners, working directly with fishermen, found that using biopanels in blue crab traps did not adversely affect catch rates.
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Mobjack escape biopanels are made from polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), which is a naturally occurring biopolyester produced by bacteria and is biodegradable by microbes typically found in the marine environment. Bacteria create PHA and use it to store energy in a similar way that humans store energy as fat.
Mobjack chose PHA because in aquatic environments, bacteria recognize PHA as a food source and consume it which converts PHA to biomass, water, carbon dioxide, and naturally occurring monomers. PHA meets the American Society of Testing and Materials certification as well as European Standards for biodegradation in the marine environment. However, PHA also has physical characteristics similar to non-degradable plastics and can be formulated for extrusion into molded forms. The result? A multi-purpose biopanel that has broad applications across a range of pots and traps.
Contact Mobjack today about retrofitting your fleet of traps or purchaseour products directly on our website.
Polyhydroxyalkanoate (or PHA, see below),
Mobjack Binnacle biopanels help to address the problem of lost and abandoned crab, lobster, and fish traps.
The development and application of Mobjack’s technology has been supported by significant research and case studies by the Center for Coastal Resources Management, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary, which has designated PHA as the material of choice for escape biopanels for crab, lobster, and fish traps.
At Mobjack, 5% of net proceeds from the sale of biopanels is donated to non-profit organizations that preserve waterways and support watermen.