01 March 2007

Lobsters and Deep Sea Netting

There was an article in the Times on Wednesday about fishermen that want Maine to allow them to use deep sea nets (essentially nets that run along the sea floor and pick up everything and anything in sight) to catch lobsters. The "normal" way one captures lobsters is with a trap. The lobster fisherman has to go from lobster trap to lobster trap pulling them up to see if they have any lobsters in them. If they are too small, then the lobster fisherman is -- on the honor system -- supposed to throw it away and back into the sea. Lobster fishermen notch female lobsters with eggs so that other lobster fishermen know not to catch them. The lobster industry is relatively stable because of this. Given that the ground trawlers already avoid the Maine law against "landing" lobsters by going to Massachusetts with their lobsters, I don't trust them to follow the rules. If you are interested in the nitty-gritty lobster regulations, Maine's Department of Marine Resources has a discussion of the rules for recreational fishers. I think the laws as to size are the same for commercial and recreational fishermen alike.
I went out on a lobster boat once (when I was younger my family used to stay at a place for a week or so that had a lobster fisherman that used the dock). It was a lot of fun; a beautiful summer day. I imagine that it is not so much fun in the middle of the winter, though. So, I may be biased for the lobster fishermen, but I still think that a net that catches everything would damage the lobster fishery, possibly permanently.

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