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LOBSTER OUTLOOK: Plastic lobster traps boost longevity, says Yarmouth developer

Scott Dauphine (second from right) talks with Shelburne County lobster fisherman Maurice Shand at the SWNS Lobster Forum in September. Dauphine has developed a plastic trap he says should last 10 years if it’s handled right. Also having a yarn are lobster fishermen Joey Goodick, who has fished the plastic traps, and Charles Kenney (left).
Scott Dauphine (second from right) talks with Shelburne County lobster fisherman Maurice Shand at the SWNS Lobster Forum in September. Dauphine has developed a plastic trap he says should last 10 years if it’s handled right. Also having a yarn are lobster fishermen Joey Goodick, who has fished the plastic traps, and Charles Kenney (left). - Kathy Johnson

YARMOUTH, N.S. – With a projected lifespan of at least 10 years, longevity is the biggest feature of a new-age plastic lobster trap that should appeal to fishermen, says developer Scott Dauphine.

A native of Yarmouth County, Dauphine returned home several years ago after spending almost two decades working internationally in the oil and gas industry and started the Lobster Trap Company as a concept.

Scott Dauphine of the Lobster Trap Company explains features of their plastic lobster trap at a business innovation event at NSCC Burridge. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
Scott Dauphine of the Lobster Trap Company explains features of their plastic lobster trap at a business innovation event at NSCC Burridge. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

“I was looking for an industry that needed innovation, change, some new engineering and ideas and I came across lobster traps,” he says. “The material has not changed in almost 50 years. They have been made out of wire mesh since the ‘70s. It was invented in the ‘70s and was started as a way to patch the wooden traps and evolved into making traps out of that.”

Working with Dalhousie University, Memorial University, and the NSCC Ignite Lab at the Burridge Campus, Dauphine spent almost a year doing engineering and design work before coming up with a generation-one prototype.

“It was patented before we built it and we fished it ourselves with an experimental licence that allowed us to fish the trap but not keep the lobster, which was fine,” he says. “We wanted to prove the trap. It worked fantastic and exceeded our expectations of what we thought it would do.”

The traps were then given to local fishermen to test, who provided Dauphine with feedback.

“Everyone has their tweaks, their secret recipe, what’s important to them and what’s not important and we tried to incorporate that into the trap,” he says. “And we went from generation one to generation two with the improvements recommended from the fishermen.”

From the generation-one prototype to the generation-two model, Dauphine said he made more than 50 changes, such as incorporating handles into the traps, improving the centre of gravity to guarantee the trap lands upright, and optional interlocking stackability. The traps are made from a high-grade industrial-type plastic, which has a negative buoyancy, so it sinks on its own, says Dauphine.

The Lobster Trap Company generation two plastic lobster traps. KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO
The Lobster Trap Company generation two plastic lobster traps. KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO

The plastic has additives in it for UV protection and can be manufactured in whatever colour the customer requests.

“The biggest feature for fishermen is the longevity of the trap,” says Dauphine. “A traditional wire trap has a lifespan of about five years depending on how it’s handled and the grounds it’s fished.

“This trap, a minimum of 10 years if it’s looked after, and that could easily double, so it’s about the capital investment they spend every year and the money and time it will save them,” he says, when it comes to maintenance and upkeep.

Dauphine says the longevity of the traps has been determined through accelerated testing at Dalhousie University, with which he has been working very closely on the engineering side, and Memorial University, which has physically fished the trap continuously for just over a year.

“I feel very confident in that,” he says.

The traps are also recyclable and will come with a rebate program.

“The trap is going to be produced using a percentage of recycled material and at the back end of it, when that trap is ready to retire, we as a company will buy that trap back through a rebate program, a trade-in on new traps,” Dauphine says. “We, as a company, will close the loop on the recycling program. We want that trap back. It gets it out of the ocean and landfill and can be recycled back into another product.”

Dauphine hopes to begin taking orders for the traps at the start of the new year and to be manufacturing them by the spring for the next season.

For further information, visit http://thelobstertrapcompany.com/


READ MORE OF OUR 2018 LOBSTER OUTLOOK STORIES:

• Largest lobster fishing season opens in southwestern Nova Scotia next week

• Op-ed: Fishing safety must always be at the forefront

• SAR resources will be in place for lobster season opening in southwestern N.S.  

• Barrington’s lobster pot tree celebrates the season and tells the story of the sea

• TINA COMEAU: Families on shore and at sea – the personal side of the industry

Southwestern N.S. lobster fishermen asked: ‘Are you ready?’ as focus is on safety heading into the season

A.F. Theriault and Son Ltd. Has diversified its products but lobster boats remain at the core of the business

Smooth sailing, rough weather and you’re paying what? A look at past season starts in southwestern NS

• Market conditions prime for Canadian lobster

• ‘It’s been an interesting life’: Cape Sable Island fisherman reflects on decades of fishing

• Testing the Nova Scotia waters with ropeless gear

• Ship-to-Shore program urges fishermen to bring waste ashore

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