Collisions with ships or entanglement in fishing gear are common causes of death. Photograph: HO/APWith half a dozen or so companies working to develop ropeless gear, the technology varies widely. In the US, state and federal regulators have all but barred ropeless fishing, allowing it only for those who successfully wade through a “somewhat daunting” process of applying for an exemption, said Ramage. Technology for ropeless fishing varies, but at its essence swaps surface buoys for GPS or other digital tracking. Photograph: EdgeTechThis potential compromise – allowing ropeless fishing in closed-off areas – is now being considered by the US federal government, said Moore of the Ropeless Consortium.