All About Gear

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing

Permit Requirements

To recreationally fish for lobsters and crabs with traps you must hold a Recreational Lobster/Crabbing Permit endorsed for trap fishing. This endorsement allows you to fish up to 10 traps. Any member of your immediate family may fish your traps for you. No household may hold more than one permit endorsed for traps, nor fish more than 10 traps. This permit must be carried on the vessel at all times when fishing for lobsters or edible crabs. This permit allows up to 15 lobsters to be kept per day.

Surface Identification

Buoy Colors

All traps and cars must be buoyed at the surface. Each permit holder must have a unique buoy color combination of up to three colors. This color combination is provided by the applicant on the application. Each buoy must be marked with this color scheme, typically by painting the buoys. The color scheme must also be visibly displayed on the vessel. This is commonly done by displaying a buoy on the vessel or painting the color scheme on the side of the vessel. You should look to see what combinations recreational and commercial trap fishermen are using in your area and try to pick a unique color combination.

Buoy Marking

All buoys must be permanently marked with permit holder information in a specific alphanumerical sequence. This begins with the letter “N”; then the permit number; followed by a dash (-); then a single digit from 0 to 9, indicating the sequential pot number in the series that the permit holder is fishing. Each letter and number must be 1″ in height by ½” in width. Common techniques include permanent marker, painting or burning.

Single Pots vs Trawls

Most recreational fishermen prefer to fish single buoyed pots rather than trawls, which are a series of pots tied together at one or both ends. However, they may fish either. Each style of trap configuration requires a unique surface identification.

Single traps shall be marked with a single 7″ x 7″ or 5″ x 11″ buoy. The use of buoy sticks is optional, but if a stick is used a flag shall not be attached.

Trawls shall be marked on the east end 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). Then the west end of the trawl shall be marked with a single 7″ x 7″ or 5″ x 11” buoy with a 3 foot stick and flag. Trawls of two or three traps shall only be marked on one end, whereas trawls of four or more traps must be marked on both.

Gear Identification

All traps and cars must be permanently marked with permit holder information in the same alphanumerical sequence as the buoy number. This alphanumerical sequence shall be permanently secured into the inside of the trap through the use of a synthetic plate or by being burned or cut by a wooden lath.