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from students; Answers from Captain Bruce Morton
General Questions | Lobsters
long have you been a fishermen?
I started fishing when I was 7 years old.
is your schedule like for fishing?
I usually go lobstering 4 to 6 days a week. In the summer (June,
July, and August), the state says we can't go lobstering on Sundays,
so that's the only day I take off each week. In the fall, I try
to haul 4 or 5 times a week, but the days depend a lot on the
many hours do you work each day on your boat?
Usually around 10 hours a day when I'm lobstering.
What kinds of fish do you catch?
Lobster, cod, flounder, and shrimp.
How many pounds
of fish do you catch in one day?
Between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds of fish per day.
do you use a buoy for?
A buoy marks where the traps are. My buoys are blue, white, and
do you do with the fish after you catch them?
I sort the fish by species, put them in 100 pound boxes and ship
them to the Portland Fish Exchange to be sold.
Does the weather stop you from going fishing or lobstering?
Yes! High winds (over 25 knots) and/or high seas (more than 5-6')
after or during a storm keep me from fishing. Real thick fog does
too because it makes it too hard to haul traps. Today, I came
in early (about 1 pm) because the wind was blowing from the NW
at about 30 knots.
you eat the fish you catch?
Yes, but not every day. We like all kinds of fish.
How big is your boat, F/V Sea Dancer (length, width, height,
45' long, 15' wide, draft is 5' (that's how ddep it is from the
waterline down) which larger than most lobster boats becuase I
also use it for groundfishing and shrimping. I don't know ho much
did you name your boat "Sea Dancer"?
I just thought of it and I liked it.
do you catch shrimp?
I use a net although some people use special traps that are something
like lobster traps. The net is dragged on the bottom behind the
boat. I'll send you some pictures in the winter if the government
allows to have a shrimp season.
you ever caught anything besides lobsters in the traps?
Yes. Various species of fish (cod, flounder, red fish, mackerel-you
name a fish species and someone has caught it!), sea urchins,
star fish, crabs and coke cans.
really liked it when you said you caught coke cans in your traps.
If you could give us the names of the different kinds of plants
that either help or hurt your fishing business we would really
Plants aren't really involved in fishing except that kelp
provides a hiding place for lobsters to live while they grow up.
What is the difference between nautical mile
and a land mile?
A nautical mile is 2000 yards, a land mile is 1760 yards. 1 nau
mile=approximately 1.15 land miles.
Have you ever fallen overboard when pulling a
No, and I hope I never do!
you trap lobster?
do you use for lobster bait?
Mostly herring. We put them in bait bags which we put on a line
in the lobster trap.
Why do you only trap lobster from June to December?
It's the best part of the season-there are more lobsters around
then. The other times are when the shrimp and finfish are available
and I like to fish for them.
many lobster do you catch in a day?
My average catch is 400-500 pounds a day; it usually takes 75
lobsters to weigh 90 pounds-they average a pound and an eight
many lobster are usually in one trap?
There doesn't seem to be a "usual" amount. Some traps
have none; sometimes there are as many as 20 or 30 but not all
of them are legal size. My highest number of legal lobsters in
a trap is 15.
What happens to the buoy when there are lobsters
in the trap?
The buoy doesn't know if there are lobsters in the trap or nort.
The buoy is just a marker for where the trap is located.
Have you ever been pinch by a lobster?
Yes.... and it hurts!
What is the difference between a male and female
The obvious difference is that the female's tail is wider.
Are lobsters different colors?
Most lobsters are dark green, but some are blue, yellow, mottled
(yellow/green), and once I had an orangish one. Those are the
only colos I know, and they are fairly rare. It's a novelty when
someone catches one.
How far down do you put a lobster trap ?
In the summer, between 30 and 60 feet and as the season goes on,
as deep as 300 feet. We usually measure the depths in fathoms;
6 feet - 1 fathom.
long do you leave a lobster trap before you pull it up?
Normally 3 days in the summer and 5 in the fall (as weather permits).
I have 600 traps and haul 200 a day.
big does a lobster have to be for you to keep it?
At least 3 1/4" from the eye socket to the back of the carapace
and not longer than 5".
How much do you sell the lobster for?
Right now, we are getting $2.85 per pound; this summer and fall
the range was 2.75-3.25.
do you fish for finfish only two months out of the year?
Because of the new government regulations that only allow me to
fish a certain number of days a year and only in certain places.
do you keep track of the hours you are fishing so the government
knows you are staying within the law?
There isn't any restriction on lobstering (except for those Sundays
in the summer). I have to fill out a "trip report" every
time I go out (whenever the boat leaves the harbor ) to catch
lobsters, shrimp, groundfish, whatever. I mail it in to the government
once a month. I have to call the Nationl Marine Fisheries Sservice
whenever I leave port to go groundfishing and again when I get
back in. Right now I'm allowed to go groundfishing 21 days a year.
We were allowed to gro shrimping 25 days in 2002.
would the government not allow a shrimp season?
They are afraid there aren't enough shrimp to keep reproducing
at a rate that would keep a fishery going (a sustainable fishery).
The fishermen disagree with the government; we think there are
more shrimp out there than they do. We've found that shrimp are
"cyclic"-they come and go depending on the water temperature;
they seem to like very cold water. in the past few years, water
temperatures have been warmer here. Meanwhile, fishermen have
been catching lots of shrimp where the water is colder than it