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Experiences of a Lobster Trip

The experience itself was amazing. After getting bait (a boxful of herring as lobsters can’t see well but can smell very well!) and loading it onto the boat (a 30 footer custom designed for lobstering), we set out of the harbor to our first destination.

Lobstering with Jeff was a great experience. He is one of the smartest people I have met. The knowledge he had about the local waters, lobster, climate change and the sea in general was impressive. It was also really inspiring to learn about how he got himself into the business while still in high school.

The experience itself was amazing. After getting bait (a boxful of herring as lobsters can’t see well but can smell very well!) and loading it onto the boat (a 30 footer custom designed for lobstering), we set out of the harbor to our first destination. On the way, Jeff enlightened us with his knowledge of the surrounding water, the regulations put on lobstermen, the population of lobster in the area and the effect of the environment on them, and many other things.

Reaching our first stop, we started pulling the trawl of cages out of the water and retrieving lobster from them, baiting the cages, preparing them to be put back in the water, and finally,returning them to their place underwater. We repeated this with the rest of the trawls of cages we came to. This was a lot of hard work and a lot of fun. Besides the actual activity being fun, it was also cool to see how lobsters are baited and trapped.

Not only was catching lobster fun, but the amount of stuff I learned from the experience was incredible. I learned that lobster used to be trapped in very large quantities, and that it was served in prison and used as food for pigs, but it was overfished so much that it became rare and considered to be a delicacy for the finest restaurants. Maine lobsters are the same as Massachusetts lobsters but they built a brand that’s known everywhere.

Jeff taught our entire group about how warmer waters from global warming is disrupting lobster breeding cycles and also how this would not affect catches in the next few years, but the catch in 8 years, because that is the average age of lobsters caught. It is also interesting to learn how because the lobster business is mostly family run, it is self-policed so there is never a desperate need for regulations.

There are some regulations that lobstermen came up with themselves that have worked to help the population grow to a high number. Lobstermen must throw back small lobsters, as they have not had a chance to breed, as well as very large lobsters, otherwise through natural selection over time the average size of lobsters will drop in size.

Also, any pregnant lobster must be thrown back after a V is cut into its tail, to signal that it is fertile and should be set free in the future even if it isn’t pregnant when caught the next time. We caught and released several pregnant lobsters each teeming with eggs. Also each lobsterman is limited to about 850 cages each year. Other countries and other fishermen could learn a lot from adopting similar policies.

Overall, I feel this adventure was not only a great time and a good way to spend a day, but also really good for learning about the lobster industry and one of New England’s most famous delicacies.

By Ishaan Bhojwani, Age 14