Bait experiments toward developing a profitable, sustainable, and efficient snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) fishery in the Barents Sea
As of 2014, snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) have been commercially harvested in the Barents Sea, and the industry is of economic importance and is actively growing. Large offshore fishing vessels from Norway actively seek more efficient ways to bait traps, as well as to find affordable bait options with favorable catch rates. The goals of this project were two-fold: firstly to determine what type of bait shield would be most effective, mesh or plastic containers, second to test the feasibility of minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and harp seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus) fishery by-products as a bait alternative for snow crab pots. The plastic bait shield outperformed the mesh bait shields, and that the plastic bait shields have a high potential to be adopted into an automated baiting system to improve efficiency and occupational health for fishermen. In addition, the catch obtained by seal fat and seal fat with skin baits was comparable to that obtained by using traditional squid bait. This implies that fishermen could save money by avoiding buying food-grade squid for bait, and the carbon footprint required to import such squid by choosing to use locally produced minke whale and harp seal fishery byproducts.