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Use of potting techniques in the groundfish fishery 
off the coast of Maine.  

Checking out a prototype trap at the 2003 Maine Fishermen's Forum.

Proctor Wells (right), Mark Wells (center) and Mark's son Bill, building traps.

Traps assembled and ready for action. Different funnel designs are being tried, such as the Neptune Triggers on the trap to the right, and knitted twine heads on the left.

Proctor showing a trap fitted with a Lexan funnel built by his brother, Mark. Note the one-way triggers on the trap top; these allow fish into the twine bag, which floats when the trap is set. Other traps stand ready to go, in the background.

In recent years, collaborations between fishermen and scientists have resulted in reduced environmental impacts and greater selectivity, for many types of fishing gear. Quality of landed fish remains a high priority, for fishermen, distributors and consumers alike. The use of trap gear to catch fish is one more stage in the evolution of the industry, and these issues have come together in a project funded through the Cluster Grant Program of the Maine Technology Institute ( 

Local fishermen Proctor Wells of Phippsburg, and Vincent Balzano, of Saco, are leading the fishing trials. Sue Inches, Director of Industry Development for the Maine Dept. of Marine Resources (, is the author of the grant and the project coordinator. Dana Morse, Extension Associate for Maine Sea Grant and UMaine Cooperative Extension, is acting as staff scientist and outreach coordinator. Captains Wells and Balzano have lead the way in Maine on the subject of trapping live fish in recent years, and have helped to create successful collaborations for industry, science and management. 

Fishing activities are taking place aboard Capt. Wells' F/V Tenacious, and Capt. Balzano's F/V North Star. Several trap designs are being tested, as well as observations on the effects of depth, soak time, temperature, and other conditions. A sister project is also underway, under the direction of Dr. Pingguo He, of the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension ( An important aspect of both projects is better understanding of the behavior of fish near the pots, especially that of cod, haddock and cusk. 

To that end, project participants are also teaming with Dr. Chris Glass of the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences (, and Cliff Goudey, of MIT Sea Grant ( The expertise of these researchers will help to gather and interpret behavior data, through the use of specialized underwater camera equipment.  

An informative story was written in the May edition of the publication 'Collaborations', by Michael Crocker of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance.

"Click here to read the May 2003 edition of Collaborations, featuring the fish trapping project."

To view this downloadable file, visit their website at For more information on this project, contact Dana Morse, at 207.563.3146 x 205, or via email: 


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