Ashored, the Dartmouth-based maker of fishing equipment that reduces accidental harm to marine animals such as whales, will head up a $1.4 million Ocean Supercluster project to develop a “rope-on-command” system for lobster and crab traps.

Conventional traps are retrieved via ropes connected to the trap at one end, with the other end floating on the surface of the ocean. But sea-life including sea turtles, seals, porpoises and whales often become tangled in the ropes. Canada’s Ocean Supercluster said in a press release that about 85 percent of deaths in the North American Right Whale population — which is critically endangered — are caused by entanglements with trap lines.

Ashored will help develop a system whereby the rope remains coiled around a device attached to the trap until it needs to be retrieved, at which point it will uncoil and float to the surface with the help of a buoy. The project will also include a data analytics platform that will track the location of fishing gear and how long it has remained in place.

The Ocean Supercluster will pay $650,000 of the $1.4 million development costs, with the balance coming from Ashored and St. John’s-based parter eSonar, which builds energy-efficient, battery operated sonar equipment. It will mark the technology cluster’s 38th project.

“We know healthy oceans are essential for healthy lives and the advancements in technology developed by Ashored and E-Sonar as part of this collaboration are driving real change in the fixed gear fisheries,” said Ashored CEO Aaron Stevenson in the press release.

“The Ashored ROC system not only removes vertical lines used in the fixed gear fisheries; saving the lives of endangered and entangled marine animals, and reducing ocean waste and ghost gear, but also is a means of collecting, analyzing, and reporting on catch data.”

Ashored was founded in 2018 by a trio of students in Saint Mary’s University’s Masters of Technology, Entrepreneurship and Innovation program: Stevenson, Ross Arsenault and Maxwell Poole. Arsenault is now the company’s COO. Poole is no longer listed on the company website