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Gear Construction Requirements

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing


It is unlawful for any person to take or attempt to take lobsters or crabs by use of pots or traps without said pots or traps having the following features:

  • Ghost Panel and an Escape Vent

It is also unlawful for any lobster/crab trap to exceed a volume of 22,950 cubic inches.

Ghost Panel

Ghost panels are designed to create an opening to allow the escapement of lobsters within 12 months after a trap has been abandoned or lost.

Ghost panel specifications:

  • The opening covered by the panel must be rectangular and measure at least 3 34” by 3 34
  • It must be located in the outer parlor section of the trap and in a position which allows an unobstructed exit of lobsters from the trap.
  • The panel must be constructed of, or fastened to the trap with, one of the following materials: wood lath; cotton, hemp, sisal or jute twine not greater than 316” in diameter; or non-stainless, uncoated ferrous metal not greater than 332” in diameter.

Escape Vent

Escapes vents are required in order to allow sub-legal lobsters and other non-targeted species to escape lobster/crab traps.

It is required that one or more rectangular escape vents or openings, or two or more unobstructed round openings, be placed in the parlor section of the trap.

If your traps have two parlors, BOTH must be vented.

Recreational fishermen fishing in the Gulf of Maine Recreational Lobster/Crabbing Area: Rectangular escape vents must be at least 1 1516” by 5 34” or two circular vents must measure at least 2 716” in diameter.

Recreational fishermen fishing in the Outer Cape Cod or Southern New England Recreational Lobster Areas: Rectangular escape vents must measure at least 2″ by 5 34” or two circular vents must measure at least 2 58” in diameter.

Gear Questions

Can the escape vent be used as the ghost panel?

Yes. The escape vent may serve as a ghost panel if incorporated into a panel constructed of, or attached to the trap with: wood lath, cotton, hemp, sisal or jute twine not greater than 316” in diameter; or non-stainless, uncoated ferrous metal not greater than 332” in diameter, and upon breakdown of the degradable materials, will create an opening for egress of lobsters at least 3 34 by

Can the door of the trap be considered a ghost panel?

Yes. The door of the trap may serve as the ghost panel if fastened to the trap with: wood lath, cotton, hemp, sisal or jute twine not greater than 316” in diameter; or non-stainless, uncoated ferrous metal not greater than 332” diameter.

Do escape vents and ghost panels need to be attached in a specific orientation?

No. Escape vents and ghost panels need to provide an unobstructed means for escape for lobsters and must be located in the parlor section of the trap. It has been observed, however, that certain orientations work better than others (see below).

If I use wood traps do I need a ghost panel?

Traps constructed entirely or partially of wood shall be considered to be in compliance if constructed of wood lath to the extent that deterioration of wooden component(s) will result in an unobstructed opening at least 3 332” by

Why are there rectangular and circular vent options?

Circular vents retain crabs better than rectangular vents.