Lobster Tagging Project

Introduction

This project, funded by NOAA’s Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant, aims to study lobster movement patterns more broadly in the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank stock.  It is a collaborative effort between the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association (AOLA), New Hampshire Fish & Game (NHF&G), and Maine Department of Marine Resources (ME DMR). The objectives of this study are to determine annual variations in broodstock distribution, measure lobster growth, and assess changes in offshore movement patterns as lobsters shift away from the coast.

The ME DMR has incorporated lobster tagging into its ongoing monitoring efforts as well as dedicating a few tagging-specific trips to the study. By the end of 2019, we will have deployed about 4,000 lobster tags in Area 1. Discarded lobsters (notched or oversized) were tagged on lobster sea sampling trips targeting areas >12 miles from shore. Additionally, in July 2018 ME DMR tagged approximately 2,000 lobsters on offshore fishery-independent trips in Area 3.

Found a Tagged Lobster?

WHAT TO REPORT: Date, Location (loran is okay), Tag Number (between 0001–21000), whether the lobster had Eggs or V-notch, and whether it was Kept or Released. Report Length or send a photo with gauge to qualify for higher value raffles and help us collect growth data (see photo example below right).

HOW TO REPORT: Call, Text, Email or Facebook Messenger us. It’s okay to report old recaptures. (774) 251-9454, heidi@offshorelobster.org.
Congratulations to the January–June 2019 raffle winners. LAST RAFFLE: JANUARY 2, 2020 — $4,500 IN REWARDS.

PROJECT UPDATE: Over 17,000 lobsters have been tagged so far, with plans to tag 18,500 total. Approximately 1,500 recapture reports have been provided by fishermen to date. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to report recaptures!

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Kathleen Reardon (DMR) or visit the AOLA website.   Printable flyer (1 page PDF)

The charts below show lobsters tagged (squares) in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank with recaptures (circles) of at least 50 miles away. On Georges Bank, there is regular movement between shoal and deep water, but also movement to other areas of the Gulf. In the Gulf of Maine, lobsters tagged in LMA 1 have moved both east and west, LMA 3 tagged animals have been recaptured 50-150+ miles away from downeast ME to southern MA as well as the canyons off Georges Bank.

Map of tagging locations and recaptures in Area 1 Map of tagging locations and recaptures in Area 3

Map of tagging locations and recaptures in Georges Bank area Photo of tagged lobster and one with gauge