All About Gear
All About Gear
Single pots: individual lobster pots
Pot trawls: lobster pot trawls where single pots are tied together in a series and buoyed at both ends.
East end: the part of the pot trawl extending from 01 through 180 [degrees] magnetic.
West end: the part of a pot trawl extending from 181 through 00 [degree] 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 or two-pot trawls called “doubles”. Doubles shall be marked with a single buoy line.
Permit Number/Gear Markings
Recreational Lobster Permit Holders will now use a 5-digit permit number which will be the last 5 digits of your Customer ID number, located in the upper right hand corner of your renewal.
Single 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.
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.
Anatomy of a Lobster Trap
Gear Construction Requirements
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:
It is also unlawful for any lobster/crab trap to exceed a volume of 22,950 cubic inches.
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:
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 2 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 15/16 inches by 5 3/4 inches or two circular vents must measure at least 2 7/16 inches 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 inches by 5 3/4 inches or two circular vents must measure at least 2 5/8 inches in diameter.
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 3/16 inch in diameter; or non-stainless, uncoated ferrous metal not greater than 3/32 inch in diameter, and upon breakdown of the degradable materials, will create an opening for egress of lobsters at least 3 3/4 by 3 3/4 inches.
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 3/16 inch in diameter; or non-stainless, uncoated ferrous metal not greater than 3/32 inch 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 3/32 inches by
3 3/32 inches.
Why are there rectangular and circular vent options?
Circular vents retain crabs better than rectangular vents.
The following restrictions apply to all recreational pots set on a year round basis.
Weak links allow the buoy to part away from the buoy line in the event that a whale encounters your gear.
Buoy Line Marking
By marking the rope, that gear can be identified to a certain area and fishery, if it is taken off an entangled whale.
Images: NOAA Fisheries Service
Whale-Related Gear Rules
Massachusetts state waters are important habitat for endangered large whale species, including the humpback whale and North Atlantic right whale. Entanglement in fishing gear is a major cause of injury and mortality for large whales. MarineFisheries requires the use of modified fishing gear in order to reduce the risk of whale entanglement and identify entangling gear.
For more details please see http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dmf/publications/weaklink.pdf
Single: one pot with a single buoy line attached.
Double: two pot string of traps with a single buoy line attached.
Triple: three pot string of traps with a single buoy line attached.
Sinking line: a line that has a specific gravity greater than that of seawater, 1.03, and does not float up in the water column.
Weak Link: breakable section or device that will part when subjected to specified poundage of pull pressure and after parting, will result in a knot-less end, no thicker than the diameter of the line, the so-called “bitter end”, to prevent lodging in whale baleen.
Abandon or dispose of at sea: to leave fixed gear in the water without hauling it at least every 30 days or in prohibited areas during prohibited periods.
Twin orange markers: a pair of identical orange flag-like strips of material that are clearly visible and attached to the buoy stick or high flyer.
Cape Cod Bay Critical Habitat Gear Rules
January 1 – May 15
During the period of January 1st to May 15th, the following restrictions apply to all gear in the CCB Critical Habitat Area.
May 16 – December 31
The following restrictions apply to all gear in the CCB Critical Habitat Area on a year-round basis.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.