During a regular fishing season, most lobstermen can afford to check and rebait their traps only every three or four days. Each run to the traps can cost as much as $600 for fuel and take 18 hours of work. But three or four days can be more than enough time for lobsters to eat the chunks of herring or mackerel that serve as bait. With no bait left, lobsters don’t enter the trap and fishermen are left with a smaller catch. Thus, the millions of traps that dot the Atlantic from Newfoundland to North Carolina remain empty about half the time.
Vince Stuart, the owner of a Nova Scotia company that makes winches, gantries and other fishing-boat rigging, first heard about the lobstermen’s problem from his clients on the docks in 2003. He soon began building the Bait Savour, a device that would release an extra supply of lobster bait a few days after a trap was laid. It allows the lobstermen to check their traps less frequently (about once every five days instead of every three or four), saving time, labor and fuel.
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