Legality of ROV farming / harvesting of wildlife?


I was watching this video of an underwater clam shell gripper that the author describes as a device which is a:

"Cheap and simple device to explore the sea bed from a boat. Ideal for catching shells, crabs and other bottom dwellers.

A robotic device with a clamshell gripper arm and a HD underwater camera.
Hand held monitor with controls to zoom and tilt camera and to control the opening and closing of the clamshell gripper arm."

This got me father loves crabbing out of the Siletz Bay on the Oregon coast, and crabbing is like most fishing sports to me, boring, boring, boring. Throw object in water, wait, wait, wait some more and then pull said object up and hope something is now on the trap / hook.

Anyway, the basic question I have is: "Can I use a tele-presence device such as an ROV to go out into the bay and just take the crabs directly instead of waiting for them to stumble into the trap?"

To me this would be like how sailors must have felt when they stumbled upon Dodo birds. "You mean I just walk up to them and grab them????".

I'm sure it's not that easy to chase a crab down, but at least there is some adventure and adrenaline now involved.


I definitely agree that using an ROV to explore can be much more exciting than fishing. We get a lot of comments from fishermen and crabbers who think the ROV could be a great tool.

Seems to me there are two issues:

1) Legal - We should contact someone from the fish and game service to really understand the legality. I mean, clearly you can't fish with dynamite, but I don't know if ROV crabbing would be considered recreational.

2) Moral - If it is easier to catch crabs, then is that ok? Like the dodo bird. It just seems wrong to me.


I was thinking along that line, but in an environmental way!!

Our local reefs are getting overrun by (imported) Lionfish who don't have a local enemy,

or look at what the starfish are doing to the Great Barrier Reef...

Why not have some ROVs 'rovering' around, semi-autonomously, in a set grid maybe, looking for and tagging (or even spearing) these pesky critters?

I agree with David on the ethical part, but here could also hide a solution to a big environmental problem in hiding!


True, the Lionfish idea is particularly interesting.

My understanding is that they can only be caught by spear -

Also, their unique shape might lend them to be identifiable by computer vision.


Trying to grab a crab with a robotic arm would take the hand-eye coordination of a video game champion. That would be a hell of a lot of fun!

As far as legality, I don't see the difference between using a robot or your own hand. To the best of my knowledge, it is perfectly legal to dive for crab in Oregon. Using a robot should make any (legal) difference.

That's my 2 cents.


You're right you can dive for crabs in Oregon, that's a good comparison. Here's a video of it being done

After watching that video one thing that became apparent about catching crabs though is that you can only catch males and they have to be of a certain size. That definitely adds some challenge to the whole process.

Well, this discussion for me was more just about exploring the concept of using the ROV for "sporting" activities.

Probably in the not so far future future the whole fishing / hunting concept could be done autonomously. Robot! First it started with the animals, then the humans. Didn't they make a movie about this? ;)


Interesting discussion.

My thinking is that fishing with a ROV could be a lot more selective and less damaging than conventional fishing techniques. Dredging, trawling, netting.

In UK waters spear fishing is allowed without a permit- some no fish zones during breading seasons. But you aren't allowed to sell spear caught fish.

If the video was recorded people could even see there fish getting caught. Fish don't live in polystyrene trays covered with cling film.

Eyes on the sea bed might allow more careful management of stocks?