Lightweight, collapsible coiled pots are changing the game for Alaska black cod fishermen and in under two years, nearly 10,000 will soon be working the fishing grounds.
“I’ve had more than one fisherman tell me that for the first time in a long time they are excited about fishing black cod again.”
Pete Sawle runs Fish Tech, Inc. and sells the CodCoil pots invented by fellow fisherman and researcher Alexander Stubbs of San Francisco.
The pots are made from galvanized, high carbon steel wire that is formed into a helical spring closed at both ends. They use knotless, small mesh webbing that acoustically masks the fish in the pot to keep whales away.
Unlike traditional rigid pots that can weigh up to 90 pounds and sell for $240, the CodCoil pots weigh 10 to 20 pounds and sell for around $100.
The high cost of steel along with prohibitive tariffs has forced production to China and Indonesia where Sawle says they are made by local fishermen.
“The facility in Indonesia was set up by Alexander Stubbs. And it’s in a fishing community there and these are people that he’s known for years, they’re close friends of his. And he saw an opportunity to do something for that community. Their fishing industry is depressed also, and just a way that that he could bring something to their community. And it’s worked really well, it’s employing a lot of people there, and really been a boon for that village. There’s been some misinformation out there that we’re just finding these online and ordering mass quantities and importing them and marking them up. And we’re not.”
The collapsible CodCoil pots are a boon to smaller longline boats that can’t accommodate heavy hydraulics, and space and weight of up to 300 rigid black cod pots, leaving them at the mercy of hook robbing whales.
Sawle says he and Stubbs are looking at designs for other fisheries.
“ We’ve got a couple things in the works that we’re looking at – possibly something with crab. These pots also catch a lot of other things besides black cod. They catch P-cod really well and ling cod. We’ve got some interest overseas with some different fisheries that also have issues of whales that we’re kind of looking into. Right now, though, this is keeping us hopping just keeping up with this for the time being. Because the more that people hear about these or use them, the more the demand goes up.”
The ultimate goal of the new gear is to make fishermen’s businesses safer and more profitable.
Sawle says the CodCoil pots are sold out until early April but he’s still taking orders.
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