The Consortium for Wildlife Bycatch Reduction has been working collaboratively with the Maine Lobstermen's Association (MLA) to identify innovative fishing gears and methods that are practical for fishermen but also reduce the frequency and severity of large whale entanglements from vertical lines (ropes that extend from the ocean surface to the trap on the ocean bottom). One important part in achieving this objective is having a complete understanding of the diversity of lobster gear and fishing methods used in the Gulf of Maine.
In 2010, the MLA held 35 meetings with groups of lobstermen in each lobster management zone in Maine and with lobstermen from New Hampshire and Massachusetts to identify the variety of lobster trap gear configurations in the Gulf of Maine. Over 150 lobstermen participated in these meetings, described how they rigged their gear, and talked generally about how, where and when they fish as a community.
This report documents the range of fixed-gear lobster fishing methods used in the Gulf of Maine for the first time. It provides new data and illustrations on how lobster trap gear is configured and deployed by season and location. The report helps fill a major gap in our understanding of trap gear and is intended to help fishery managers better understand the fishery and evaluate the relative impacts of potential regulatory changes involving lobster gear.