California crab fishermen are testing “ropeless” gear to save whales—and themselves

Fishermen, scientists, and conservationists in California are teaming up to prevent more humpback whale deaths due to tapping Dungeness crabs that are used in markets and restaurants. The number of whale entanglements from fishing gear and ropes on the West Coast has increased over the years. A new technology known as “ropeless gear” shows promise, which uses acoustics to retrieve traps off the ocean floor, but the cost of the device and other challenges remain. “It’s a great, great step forwards — particularly from the perspective of the whale,” says an attorney from the Center for Biological Diversity.

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