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Jul/Aug 2018

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Fiobuoy offers way ahead for whales

Hi-tech submersible marine marker buoy and retrieval system embraced as a possible solution to whale entanglement

John Fiotakis with a Fiobuoy submersible marine marker buoy and retrieval system

Subsurface marker buoy technology from Australian company Fiomarine Industries has been making a splash in North America as a possible solution to whale entanglement.


On a recent tour of Canada and the USA, John Fiotakis, chief executive officer of the Tasmania-based firm and the inventor of the Fiobuoy submersible marine marker buoy and retrieval system, met with government, conservation and industry groups to present the Fiobuoy as a prevention to whale entanglement by eliminating free floating rope attached to fishing gear such as crab traps. Fiomarine is developing a new version targeted to fisherman that will be app controlled.


During his tour, Fiotakis spoke on a panel of experts and stakeholders in the field of sustainable fisheries before the California State Assembly Budget Subcommittee. The hearing’s focus was to address entanglements in fishing gear by moving beyond funding rescue to looking at preventative solutions and discuss the role of government in addressing the issue.


Entanglement is a global issue that kills an estimated 300,000 whales annually. It is the leading cause of death for many whale species.

 

The entanglement issue is gaining attention in the USA, as states like California experience high numbers of whale and sea turtle entanglements due to commercial fishing activity, even leading to a lawsuit against the state.

 

SUPPORT
Fiotakis’ presentation at the hearing was met with support from fellow panellists.


Dave Anderson, founder of Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari in Dana Point, California, said that funding needs to be spent on preventative technology like Fiobuoy and that government incentives can encourage fisherman to phase out old technology.


“[Whale entanglement] is a serious problem, and it’s totally solvable,” Anderson said. “[Fiomarine] has a buoy that they’ve been using for years, it works, and there’s no reason that all the fisherman in the whole state couldn’t be using that buoy and we would basically end the problem, because most of the entanglements in California are from these buoys with ropes so if you have no rope and no buoy, you have no problem.”

 

 

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