A CWLA Fisher's Take on the ARC-1XD; At-Sea Trials
A Note from Capt. Robert Harris
Ropeless Gear Fishing
After finishing three classroom sessions and eight days at-sea, along with many conversations with Marco and participants of the project, l would like to express my point of view.
Interrogating gear using the rope bag and getting familiar with ARC. (Acoustic releasee ect).
Even the thought of no buoys on the surface takes time to get used to. In the beginning it took time to get used to the system. Arming the arc is kinda tedious. Filling bags and looking for floats are all time consuming. Getting used to the system didn’t take long, once fishing. Approaching gear and then interrogation it was done out of gear and drifting. When tides were running strong we would drift fast and couldn’t get it to release because it took two communication attempts for this process to work .We would then have to reposition the boat for a release. When tides slowed down it would not be an issue. Interrogating ARC’s was no different than looking for gear in the fog. Meaning, you could extrapolate where it would be by using electronic equipment. Once you found the first one the others were pretty easy.It was possible to get an acknowledgement of release about 90% of the time. Some of the last 10% triggered with no acknowledgement and released. There are two modes to use:
· One is individual mode where you use the arc number to release.
The other is broadcast mode where it released any of your units in range.
I didn’t find broadcast mode useful in tidal conditions because at times, the buoys only stayed up for a short time. The crew and I knew that when you got that acknowledgement it was on its way. After 1 to 6 minutes the buoys would be up and retrieved, if there wasn’t a problem. The buoys would usually be up in 1 to 3 minutes. Buoys were sometimes not seen. We speculated that they were missed when surfacing and went back under or a problem occurred in the rope bag. It took the first few days to get comfortable with the system.
We had a few issues with noise on the boat. The sounders frequency was close to system frequency; therefore, I couldn’t use the sounder. The last day we found the inverter was also causing trouble with the system.
One day we got four interrogations and acknowledgements in a row with no surface buoys. I can’t explain what went on there. Those were the first all Ropeless trawl I set. I retrieved one by setting a trawl on top of it. Both ends came back with rope bags empty. System worked. Arc’s were released. No explanation of what went wrong. It was a 10-day set with 7 meter seas (sometime time during the set), I don’t know if that had anything to do with it.
Most if not all that didn’t surface were snags in bags and a ring braking off and causing tension on the release (cause the arc lever to stay closed or just the release string caught on bag or missed by me and the crew and back under). Buoys were difficult to see in rough weather and by the six day we went all Ropeless with three trawls. The other boats and I used the Ropeless Fisher app to set the gear together. I set mine .25 to .3 miles apart. The others came and put theirs among mine with no issues. In fact, we found that it was easier than our regular method because were not
used to seeing other boats gear on our equipment. We fished the gear for two days with no issues.
Ropeless gear takes more time to pull because of interrogation, looking for buoys, and packing rope bags. Other aspects are easier like no lines floating on the water when pulling your trawl. It’s all in the bag on the other end. When you’re done pulling your trawl your bag comes in and is ready to go. No pulling in buoy lines or maneuvering around them. You would also assume that it is there because nobody should have tampered with it; surface buoys commonly go missing from gear entanglement and boat snags ect…
By no means is this easier than our regular fishing method, it’s the opposite but I believe doable in a closure.
All 3 captains said that they thought that they could make it work. There is a lot of improvement do be done on the rope bag to improve success to 100% and find a way to make buoys stay on the surface longer.