While some of us are celebrating with green beer today, others are celebrating a timely release from their long-suffering prisons made from galvanized wire. Yes--it's Crustacean Liberation Day for hundreds of lobsters in Maine! As the Coast Guard's "Ghost Gear Cleanup" Project is underway early reports show lobsters wriggling out of traps that have long remained on the bottom of the ocean floor.
Lobstermen, marine patrol join Coast Guard in 'ghost gear' cleanup
By Shlomit Auciello | Mar 17, 2011
Penobscot Bay — Owls Head lobstermen Scott Herrick, Donald Williams and Rob McMahan joined Maine Marine Patrol officers Brian Tolman and Matt Sinclair aboard the Coast Guard Buoy Tender Abbie Burgess Monday, March 14 as part of an ongoing effort to retrieve large clusters of lobster gear from the bottom of the sea off the coast of Maine. So-called "ghost gear" can be a hazard to navigation, and often collects in areas that would be otherwise productive lobster bottom.
The combined team hauled and sorted 80 lobster traps that had gathered into a series of knotted bunches that Chief Warrant Officer Paul Dupuis, commander of the Abbie Burgess, referred to as a "gaggle." The traps were located at two spots at the bottom of Penobscot Bay between Fisherman Island and Vinalhaven. A third group of sunken traps was not located due to the height of the tide.
The collected traps, many of which were on the bottom of Penobscot Bay for at least three years, were identified by their owner's trap tag number and name. The lobstermen planned to take the traps to the Ship to Shore parking lot in Owls Head, where they were to be picked up by their original owners.
Tolman said the traps found belonged to Jay Ross, Mike Rogers, Dick Carver, Tim Lindahl, Maynard Curtis, F. J. O'Hara, Rob McMahan, Vance McMahan, Jeff Woodman, Justin Philbrook, Shane Hatch, Jeff Edwards and Matt Mills.
Dupuis, referred to the event as "crustacean liberation" day. Lobsters ranging in size from those appearing to weigh as much as three pounds to much smaller examples that some refer to as Matinicus shrimp were all sent back to the bottom of the bay, along with a variety of starfish, crabs and other marine life.
Shortly before the Abbie Burgess departed from its wharf, Coast Guard personnel received word that the No. 11 buoy off Monroe Island was no longer showing a beacon. When the Abbie Burgess
Coast Guard personnel replaced the beacon and made plans to return later to replace the bell and conduct routine maintenance.
For more information about ghost gear recovery efforts, contact the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation at gomlf.org or call 985-8088.
The Herald Gazette Reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 207-236-8511 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
An estimated 4,260 lobster fishermen in Maine caught a record number of lobsters this year, (93 million pounds, up from 81 million in 2009) worth $308.7 million. Not since the late 1990s and early 2000s has the state seen this kind of boon.
Scientists are crediting unusually warm water, which allowed lobsters to molt earlier--for an earlier catch in July--a month sooner than usual. An easing of state rules combined with a long-coming lobster population growth also factored in.
What lobstermen are saying everywhere, "I had a pretty good year." After recent years, that's fantastic to hear.
source: New York Times
Columns about the sub-culture of lobstering that K. Stephens has collaborated on with Maine lobstermen and guest bloggers.