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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is exploring new solutions to buoyless underwater object location marking. Low cost systems that can locate, track, and allow users to detect the location of underwater objects that might move beyond their initial deployment location are of interest. Systems should not use vertical lines and/or buoys to mark the location of the underwater object.


North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) are endangered large whales distributed along the East coast of the United States and Canada. Despite international protection since 1935, right whales have been slow to recover from whaling due to entanglement in fishing gear and ship collisions. Despite a variety of conservation efforts, North Atlantic right whales are in decline with only an estimated 409 individuals remaining.

One proposed solution to saving them from extinction is the development of buoyless gear location marking technology. This technology would remove the threat posed by the vertical end lines (i.e. rope) currently used to track the location of fishing gear in the seafloor (see picture below). A major obstacle to moving this effort forward is the development of an affordable system to locate and track gear deployments in the ocean, and make their locations known to fishermen, nearby vessels, and enforcement agencies.

To learn more about ropeless fishing, please visit the Ropeless Consortium site at ropeless.org


Solutions with the following aspects are of high interest:

  • Able to locate objects on the seafloor and make their locations and other information (e.g. object owner’s name, date object was deployed, etc.) known to different users.
  • Update object location information quickly and accurately.
  • Low cost.
  • Have minimal impact during underwater deployment to marine life.
  • Will be ready to adopt quickly (ideally within 2-5 years).


Possible Solution Areas

  • The Ocean of Things
  • The Internet of Underwater Things (IoUT)

Desired Outcome of the Solution

Looking for Buoyless Underwater Object Location Marking, preferably at later development stages but open to prototype stage, to locate and track objects in the seafloor.

Field of Use and Intended Applications

Provide fishermen, nearby vessels, and enforcement agencies an affordable system to locate and track gear deployments in the ocean.

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