The Bait Savour — a time-delayed bait release box designed to fit inside a lobster trap — is set to hit the market for the winter season, one year after its anticipated release date.
Vince Stuart, owner of a machine shop near the southern Nova Scotia community of Meteghan, finished designing his invention in 2012 but says he is waiting to bring the device to market in order to conduct further studies.
Stuart wants to collect data during the summer and fall crabbing seasons that will show the impact the Bait Savour has on fishing for both lobster and crab.
These testing plans follow other studies conducted during this past winter lobster season that yielded what Stuart described as favourable results.
"What we have learned is that the process works in the field," he said. "The device did what it's supposed to do."
The Bait Savour is a small container that fits inside an already-baited lobster trap and re-baits it automatically.
The second piece of bait is protected inside a sealed container, which is held shut by a biodegradable fuse made with leftover fish byproduct. This container prevents the second piece of bait from being eaten prematurely by unwelcome and all-too-common visitors, such as sand fleas or seals.
The fuse is engineered to dissolve in salt water and release the second bait into the trap. Depending on the size of the fuse, fishermen can set the bait container to open anywhere between eight hours and four days.
This allows fishermen to save time and money by extending how long they're able to leave their traps unattended but still baited and attracting lobster.
A single day of inspecting traps can burn through $700 of fuel, meaning a weekly expense for fishermen of nearly $5,000.
Dalhousie University's iDLab director Matt d'Entremont, who collaborated with Stuart on the project, said the project is important because of its potential impact on the rural economy.
"You can either make the (lobster) prices go up or you can fish more economically," he said. "(The Bait Savour) allows you to save money by fishing more economically."
Stuart and d'Entremont aren't the only ones excited about the invention.
The Bait Savour was awarded a $100,000 innovation prize last year from Innovacorp, a Nova Scotia Crown corporation that helps finance Nova Scotia entrepreneurs.
The magazine Popular Science also included the device in its list of the top 10 inventions of 2012.
In the first year of sales Stuart hopes to put a Bait Savour in three per cent of the four million traps between Newfoundland to New Jersey. That translates to more than 100,000 traps along the eastern seaboard.