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Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV)
Groundline Survey 


Introduction   /   Project Objectives    /    Project Summary     /     Survey Area
Survey Schedule   /    Underwater Photos   /   Contact Information 


A federal mandate to reduce the number of whale entanglements that involve fishing gear has prompted the State of Maine to work closely with its commercial fishing industry to devise gear modifications that reduce the likelihood of entanglement. The Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team has identified Maine’s tidal and rocky coastal habitat as distinctly separate and unique compared to the balance of the habitats frequented by large whales along the east coast of the United States. In order to determine the State’s response to proposed amendments to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) is investigating the underwater profile properties of groundlines (rope between the traps) used by the Maine inshore lobster industry.



Project Objectives

The primary objective of this project is to document the profile of groundlines between lobster traps as they are fished on a variety of bottom-types and in different tidal areas along the coast of Maine in order to determine the actual groundline profiles, and to develop low-profile groundline alternatives in gear configurations and areas that present a risk to large whales.



Project Summary

DMR expanded upon the three pilot ROV projects conducted in February and April 2003, broadening the effort to secure video footage representative of differing lobster gear configurations and habitats. This effort thoroughly documented the groundline profiles of lobster gear along the entire coastline of Maine. The fall 2003 ROV project established the necessary background information on the properties of floating, sinking and neutrally buoyant groundlines, and stimulated discussion about gear modifications to create low-profile groundlines.  Filming took place in all seven zones over 24 days.

In 2004, an experimental gear survey took place.  The survey focused on ROV filming of five specific rope types: Polysteel Soft-lay Float Rope, a new Hyliner blend, Esterpro Hot Shot sinkrope, Quintas & Quintas leaded core rope, and a custom groundline modification: 1/3 float rope, 1/3 sink rope and 1/3 float rope between traps.  Project participants began fishing the experimental gear in March; gear was filmed in the month of June.  In addition to the underwater footage of experimental gear, two more days of background filming (a day each in Zone A and G) were added to the 2003 pilot project footage. Information from this survey is still being processed, and will be posted as it becomes available.  Contact Laura Ludwig (207) 633-9513 at the DMR for specific information on the filming.



Survey Area

Beginning in the western part of the state, the 2003 survey moved easterly through the seven lobster management zones, filming gear in areas that could be considered “high risk” for whale entanglement according to the best available whale sightings data. We also investigated gear that is fished in strong tidal areas, and on broken, hard and rocky bottom.  The 2004 survey took place on the fishing grounds of project participants, providing a realistic test environment for the experimental gear.

Click on a lobster zone to learn about survey activity in that area


Survey Schedule

2003 ROV Survey  

Zone G, September 2, Kittery, Isle of Shoals
Zone G, September 3, Camp Ellis

Zone F, September 8, Portland
Zone F, September 9, Baily Island

Zone F, September 10 Sebasco
Zone E, September 11, Boothbay area
Zone E, September 13, So. Bristol

Zone D, September 14, New Harbor
Zone D, September 15, Friendship and Cushing area
Zone D, September 16, Spruce Head
Zone D, September 17, Tenants Harbor

Zone C, September 22, Stonington
Zone C, September 23 Stonington to Vinalhaven
Zone C, September 24 Brooksville and Bucks Harbor
Zone C, September 25 Stonington, Swans I., Marshall I.

Zone B, September 26, Bernard and Bass Harbor
Zone B, September 30, Southwest Harbor area
Zone B, October 1, Southwest Harbor 
Zone B, October 2, Winter Harbor
Zone B, October 3, Bunkers Harbor
Zone A, October 6, Bucks Harbor
Zone A, October 7, Trescott
Zone A, October 9, Milbridge area

2004 ROV Survey 

Experimental Gear Filming
Zone F, June 14, Cape Elizabeth
Zone F, June 15, Bailey Is.
Zone F, June 21, Bailey Island
Zone D, June 16, Muscongus Bay
Zone D, June 17, Tenants Harbor
Zone B, June 18, Northeast Harbor
Zone B, June 19, Northeast Harbor
Additional Groundline Footage Filmed in 2004
Zone A, June 20, Beal’s Island
Zone G, June 22, York 



Underwater Photos

Bass Harbor Boulder

MDI poly tailer and ednline

Damariscove trawl

MDI sink rope


Contact Information

For more information, contact DMR staff here.

Photographs of Interest - click for larger view

Mary Elizabeth.jpg (114891 bytes)

ROV loading.jpg (165667 bytes)


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