In the review of a recent Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) lobster stock assessment one of the strongest recommendations made was that the data quality needed to be upgraded significantly. This upgrade is particularly important for the spatial distribution of lobster length frequency and estimates of relative abundance.
Since 2006 the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) has been conducting a collaborative study with local lobsterman up and down the coast of Maine. This Ventless Trap Survey (VTS) allows DMR to collect more data on the juvenile lobster population in Maine. These data help to create a more thorough stock assessment together with the Sea Sampling and Settlement Surveys. The study is conducted each year June through August, with two data collection days per month. The sites are fished by lobstermen chosen by competitive bid under contract to DMR. All experimental gear will have bright orange poly buoys marked with DMR contact information. This is a fishery independent study and DMR staff will be onboard all trips to measure all lobsters.
- Characterize relative abundance & size-distribution of juvenile lobsters in Maine waters.
- Document the relative importance of depth to abundance & distribution.
- Conduct collaborative research between the fishing industry & DMR scientists.
- Improve industry participation in the lobster stock assessment process.
Sampling in Maine is divided into 3 National Marine Fisheries Service statistical areas. Each area will be sampled using randomly selected sites of 3 ventless traps. In 2017 there were 276 total sites. Cooperating lobsterman set baited ventless triples, and after a three day soak, haul back, with a trained sea sampler on board. Both the captain and sampler document total catch of lobsters and crabs in each trap.
If you are interested in becoming a participating lobsterman, please contact: