In August of 2009, the National Marine Fisheries Service contracted A.I.S., Inc. (AIS) to manage and oversee the design, development and testing of an acoustic pinger tester for the fisheries observer program. The testers verified the functionality of acoustic deterrent devices that are required in many of the commercial gillnet fisheries in New England. The deterrent devices are used as a mitigation measure against harbor porpoise bycatch. The goal of the project was to design and manufacture 30 testers that were capable of sustained operation in the marine environment. To complete this work, AIS contracted EVO Design of Watertown, CT, a product design and development company with experience and technical ability completing proof of concept projects.
The first phase of the project was the development of two prototypes. The EVO team determined a means by which acoustic pinger functionality could be tested. EVO conducted bench testing and recommended a device to detect the frequency of the acoustic pinger. Once the methodology was decided, the team completed the design. EVO fabricated two prototypes and completed bench testing to ensure that they functioned properly. During the testing phase, AIS was responsible for evaluating the two prototypes and working with NMFS to provide recommendations to the design team. AIS fishery observers completed sampling protocol using the devices aboard commercial fishing vessels and reported their results to NMFS. Following refinements, NMFS approved and ordered the manufacture of 30 additional testers. In February 2011, the 30 units were delivered and deployed in the field.