Field Note: Whelk TV on MV



The MV Fishermen's Preservation Trust looks for new bait for our conch fishery.

To: Bluedot Living

From: The MV Fishermen’s Preservation Trust

Subject: MV Fishermen’s Preservation Trust Sustainable Project Recap

Throughout the summer and fall of 2022, we have been working with the University of New Hampshire on the development of an alternative bait for the whelk/conch fishery, which currently relies on the use of horseshoe crabs. That is far from ideal, as horseshoe crabs play important ecological roles. They are bioturbators as they forage for food, their eggs are a vital food source for migratory shorebirds, and their blood is essential in the biomedical industry. 

The overall goal of our project is to find an effective, alternative bait that utilizes fewer or no horseshoe crabs, is lower in cost, lower in environmental impact, and utilizes sustainable ingredients such as waste products and invasive species. Using the “Whelk TV,” an underwater camera system mounted over a typical conch pot designed to capture more than 24 hours of day and night footage, we can assess how effective the alternative baits are at attracting whelks. So far, we have tested baits that rely on invasive green crabs, surf clam bellies, and other waste from the clam processing industry. The numbers have not been crunched yet, but we are planning to continue to modify the recipe and are hopeful it will eventually eliminate or lessen the use of horseshoe crabs as bait. 

Here’s how to donate: 

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