Lobster traps are passive fishing gear. Lobsters choose to enter traps, and harvesters return illegal lobsters to the sea unharmed. The practices and regulations in place have been adopted to promote the well being of the lobster resource.
Trap limits have been reduced for the last several years as an effort to stem the possibility of over-fishing. The limit was reduced to 800 traps in 1999.
Here are several lobster traps on a wharf, ready to be put in the water.
Use of trap tags identifies the owner of the trap, and enables wardens to monitor trap limits.
Biodegradable panels must be installed in case a trap is “lost”; after a period of time they open or release allowing lobsters to escape.
Escape vent size has been increased to eliminate in-trap mortality and allow freedom of movement in and out of trap for lobsters under the minimum legal carapace length.
Traps create habitat, providing protection from large predators and attracting natural lobster feed such as sea fleas, shrimp, conch, and small fish. Baited traps provide sustenance for the lobster population competing for food.
All lobstermen must be licensed. New lobster harvesters are now required to serve an apprenticeship before a license is granted in an open zone (some Maine zones are currently closed to new entrants). This practice promotes ethics and husbandry within the industry and stewardship of Maine’s marine environment.- Harvesting text courtesy of Maine Lobster Promotion Council -