The study is expected to involve more than 3,000 lobsters © Gabe Souza/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
The study is expected to involve more than 3,000 lobsters © Gabe Souza/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Lobster 'health tracker' to improve supply chain

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
12 January 2021

Scientists have developed a “health tracker” for lobsters to improve the supply chain.

Two sensor packages are being attached to the crustacaens in the US to measure vital signs as they are transported from the pot to the distributor to understand what causes them to die on the journey.

The number of lobsters that die is known as “shrink”, and each 1% of shrink results in around $5m of lost revenue.

The project is being undertaken by the University of Maine Lobster Institute with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Rick Wahle, a zoologist at the University of Maine who is leading the research, told Hakai Magazine: “In most cases, it’s not going to be rocket science to mitigate these problems.

“It may just be shorter handling times, reducing time between the dock and the holding tank, dropping more aerators in the water, or lowering storage density.”

The first sensor ­– called MockLobster – records temperature and acceleration of a crate of lobsters as its transported. The second – the crustacean heart and activity tracker (C-Hat) – measures health.

Over 24 months the team will document lobsters as they are caught in pots, transferred to boats, stored and then shipped to distributors, with a view to using the data to improve yields.

The University of Maine said: “The project aims to test the MockLobster and C-Hat technologies at six Maine sites, gathering data from an estimated 3,000 lobsters over two years.”

In 2017 more than 10 companies including Unilever, Nestlé and Tyson collaborated with IBM to develop its corporate blockchain platform for use in the food supply chain.

The distributed ledger technology is being used to increase transparency in food supply chains and tackle issues such as sustainability, workers’ rights and animal welfare. Blockchain has been used to track tuna, beef, and Patagonian toothfish.

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