The Massachusetts Commercial Lobster Fishery “The Right Way”

Over the last 30 years, the Massachusetts Lobster industry has been at the  

forefront on right whale conservation measures while working vigorously to  

further protect the species. The 30 years of conservation measures have come at the  expense of the commercial lobstermen and yet, they are still at the table looking for  more ways to reduce risk.  

Recently, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s (MBA) Seafood Watch program added the American Lobster to  its “Red List” of seafoods to avoid. This recent listing is neither warranted nor supported by the data  here in Massachusetts. Massachusetts commercial lobstermen are mandated to a 100% reporting  threshold and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries has 30 plus years of data necessary to  debunk why Massachusetts lobster should not be on this “Red List”.  

Massachusetts commercial lobstermen are 30 years ahead of the rest of the region when it comes to  reducing risk to the right whales. Currently, Massachusetts commercial lobstermen have reduced risk  by 92% to the right whales and this listing is misleading to the general public and should be  retracted immediately.  

Massachusetts is doing more than any other state or region  

for the protection of right whales all the while maintaining  

a sustainable resource and profitable commercial lobster  

fishery. The Massachusetts American Lobster should be  

listed on the “Green List” of seafoods to buy.  

There have been ZERO Right Whale deaths attributed  

to Massachusetts Lobster gear and the MBA’s conclusion snubs all of the right whale conservation  efforts that Massachusetts commercial lobstermen have implemented such as:  

1935- International ban on hunting whales goes into effect  

1970- North Atlantic Right Whales listed as endangered  

1996- NOAA implements the Large Whale Take  

Reduction Plan  

1997-MA requirement for “breakaway” features in  

gillnets and trap/pot buoy lines Seasonal ban in Cape  

Cod Bay for gillnets and on use of floating rope between  

traps, dedicated aerial surveys begin in Cape Cod Bay  

2004 – First in Nation for year-round ban on floating  

rope between traps in Cape Cod Bay (9,000 miles  

removed)  

2007 – First in Nation for year-round ban on use of  

floating rope between traps statewide  

2014- First in Nation- MA Restricted Area is created –  

3-month closure Feb-April to 3,071 sq. miles 2015 – 3  

month (Feb/Apr) closure to all pots/traps in the MA  

Restricted Area  

2016 – 3 months (Feb/Apr) closure to all pots/traps in the  

MA Restricted Area  

2017 – 3 month (Feb/Apr) closure to all pots/traps in the  

MA Restricted Area PLUS 4-day extension of the gear closure in Cape Cod Bay  2018 – 3 month (Feb/Apr) closure to all pots/traps in the MA Restricted Area PLUS a 15-day  extension of the gear closure and speed restriction (10 mph) for small vessels in Cape Cod Bay 

2019- 3 month (Feb/Apr) closure to all pots/traps in the MA Restricted Area  

2020 – 3 month (Feb/Apr) closure to all pots/traps in the MA Restricted Area  

2021 – 3 (Feb/Apr) closure to all pots/traps in the MA Restricted Area PLUS a 15-day extension of  the gear closure and speed restriction (10 mph) for small vessels in Cape Cod Bay  2022 – Southern N.E. closed 5,648 sq. miles est. right whale population 350. Making the total sq.  miles 11,722 closed to lobstering.  

Over the last 5 years, the Massachusetts Lobster  

Foundation in collaboration with the Massachusetts  

Lobstermen’s Association and Ketcham Trap developed  

weaker red and candy cane rope breaking at 1,700 lbs.,  

with a MASS LOBSTER tracer ribbon.  

The commercial lobstermen in Massachusetts have been  

fishing this weakened rope for 4 years now without many  

issues. We are working with Ketcham Trap on every  

iteration to make it a little better but still weak to keep the  

fishermen fishing.  

The Massachusetts Environmental Trust, Drive for a better environment, provided grant funding to further  Massachusetts commercial lobstermen’s conservation efforts on behalf of right whales and all whale  species.  To learn more about all of the Massachusetts right whale conservation measures, please visit the  Lobster Foundation of Massachusetts at http://www.lobsterfoundationofma.org September 13, 2022

One thought on “The Massachusetts Commercial Lobster Fishery “The Right Way”

  1. I suggest you share this with the Boston Globe and the NY Times. The Times had a major article about the lobster industry that made no mention of Massachusetts laws and policies regarding lobstering.
    They need to know!

    Like

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