Nova Scotia

Artificial lobster bait to be tested in Nova Scotia waters

A North Carolina company is hoping its product catches on with lobster, and the people who harvest them. The plan is to replace herring with artificial bait, as a way of ensuring a more sustainable catch.

Instead of herring, traps will hold white pucks that smell like 'fish carcasses'

Officials with a company that makes herring-scented lobster bait claim it's the future of the industry. (CBC)

It might smell fishy, but officials with a company that makes herring-scented lobster bait claim it's the future of crustacean collection.

Kepley Biosystems will trial its product, called OrganoBait, in Nova Scotia this year, offering bait for up to 200 lobster traps.

OrganoBait looks like a white hockey puck and is designed to break down when placed underwater. It releases a scent similar to fish carcasses, says company president Anthony Dellinger.

"We're seen great results," he said, referring to previous tests in Florida, Virginia and North Carolina.

One of the main drivers to switch from herring to artificial bait is fishery sustainability.

Last month, the World Wildlife Fund-Canada published a report warning of the "critical condition" of three Atlantic Canadian forage fish stocks, including herring.

The report explained that species like humpback whales and harbour seals rely on forage fish for 75 per cent of their food.

However, the forage fish industry is also big business, generating up to $20 billion globally each year.

The report recommends finding alternative ways to bait lobster traps.

The OrganoBait will be in Nova Scotia waters late this year. The season opens in the prime southwestern Nova Scotia region on Nov. 28.