The owners of an Island based company have been working for the past four years developing a new bait they hope will someday replace the traditional bait used to fish lobster on PEI.
Bait Masters Inc. is owned by Mark Prevost and Wally MacPhee.
The two men have developed a bait alternative to the traditional bait used to fish lobster and crab. Right now, the business partners have been busy doing field tests of their product during the spring and fall lobster season of 2019, testing the effectiveness of their alternative bait. This fall they also tested their bait with the crab fishery.
Working with PEI based BioFoodTech, who has been providing support in the processing of their bait alternative, the Bait Masters Inc. product is an all-natural bait designed for a slower erosion rate and addresses concerns about the traditional bait source sustainability.
The men are also working with a biologist from UPEI, who plans on publishing a paper on the data from the field tests.
The field test consists of 20 lobster boats from the North and South shore, 10 in the spring and 10 in the fall, and 7,200 traps set with the Bait Masters Inc. alternative bait. The data collected will include water temperatures as well as the number and weight of legal sized lobsters trapped, which will be compared with traps using traditional bait.
The traditional bait of mackerel and herring used in the lobster industry on PEI is becoming increasingly expensive and harder for Island fishermen to find. With their product, Mr Prevost and Mr MacPhee are looking to create a cost-effective bait solution that reduces the dependence on traditional bait as well as create less waste, leading to better sustainability amongst fish stocks, and create stable prices for fishermen when they are looking to purchase bait.
The men’s product combines a mixture of fresh and frozen locally caught pelagic fish, dehydrated fish parts and oils, set in an organic casing.
“Our product, pound for pound, it will only use like half a pound of fish to make a pound of our bait, maybe even less,” said Mr MacPhee. “On the sustainability side of it, it’s quite a step forward.”
With promising results so far, setting traps with their bait from Nine Mile Creek to Skinners Pond, Mr Prevost said they’ve had a lot of support from Island fishermen.
“In developing this and doing the field test,” he said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the fishermen’s support... It wasn’t something that worked right away. It’s something we’ve been working on for some time. It’s something that could still be improved, for sure, but we’re learning a lot from what the fishermen are telling us.”
Following the field tests, the next step for the men is to look for investors and raise capital so they can start manufacturing their product on a larger scale.
Mr MacPhee said their goal is to eventually manufacture 300,000 units of their product.