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All About Gear

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing


Single pots: individual lobster pots

Pot trawls: a series of single pots tied together and buoyed at both ends.

East end: the part of the pot trawl extending from 01º through 180º magnetic.

West end: the part of a pot trawl extending from 181º through 00º magnetic.

Groundline: the line connecting pots on a pot trawl.

Buoy line: lines connecting pots to surface buoys.

Sinking line: the line that has a specific gravity equal to or greater than that of seawater, 1.03, and does not float up in the water column.

Weak link: a breakable section or device that will part when subjected to specified poundage of pull pressure and, after parting, will result in a knotless end, no thicker than the diameter of the line, the so-called “bitter end” to prevent lodging in whale baleen.

How many traps can I set?

The Massachusetts Recreational Lobster Permit allows for 10 traps ONLY.

Can I use “star” traps?

Open, collapsible wire traps, hauled by hand, such as the “star” trap, cannot be used to catch lobsters, but are legal for edible crabs.

Can someone else pull my traps?

Any immediate family member that resides in your household may pull your traps for you.

Trawls vs. Single Pots

A Recreational Lobster/Crabbing Permit allows for the use of pot trawls or single pots. Traditionally, Recreational Lobster Permit holders prefer to use single pots.

Permit Number/Gear Markings

Recreational Lobster Permit Holders must use the last 5 digits of their Customer ID number, located in the upper right hand corner of the permit, to mark gear.

  • All buoys, pots, traps, cars, dive markers and air tanks must be marked with the licensee’s 5-digit permit number.
  • The permit number must be burned or cut into the surface at least 12” deep x 18” thick.
  • In the case of non-wooden traps, said numbers shall be burned or cut into a wooden lath or plate made of durable synthetic material, which shall be permanently secured to the inside of the trap.
  • Recreational permit holders must also add the letter “N” preceding their 5-digit permit number, followed by a (-) with a single digit from 0 to 9, indicating the sequential pot number in the series that the permit holder is fishing. (This gear-marking requirement negates the need for trap tags for recreational lobster permit holders.)
  • Existing gear can be marked with the new permit number and the former permit number crossed out.

Minimum Requirements

anatomyofALobsterTrapSingle pots – Single pots shall each be marked with a single 7″ x 7″ or 5″ x 11″ buoy. Sticks are optional, but if used, shall not have a flag attached.

Pot trawls – The east end of a pot trawl shall be marked with a double buoy, consisting of any combination of two 7″ x 7″ or 5″ x 11″ buoys and one or more three foot sticks (so the two buoys can be side-by-side or stacked). The west end of a pot trawl shall be marked with a single
7″ x 7″ or 5″ x 11″ buoy with a three foot stick and a flag.

Buoy Colors

Each applicant for a Recreational Lobster Permit can choose up to three colors for the desired color scheme of their buoys. All buoys used by the permit holder must be marked with that specific color scheme.