Classrooms | Boats

Eva Hoyt Zipppel School. Presque Isle, ME (Mary Graham) and Capt. Bruce Morton. F/V Sea Dancer. (South Bristol, ME)

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Questions from students; Answers from Captain Bruce Morton
General Questions | Lobsters | Regulations

General Questions
How long have you been a fishermen?
I started fishing when I was 7 years old.

What 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 weather.

How 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.

What do you use a buoy for?
A buoy marks where the traps are. My buoys are blue, white, and gold.

What 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.

Do 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, weight)?
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 it weighs!

Why did you name your boat "Sea Dancer"?
I just thought of it and I liked it.

How 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.

Have 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.

We 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 appreciate that.
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 trap?
No, and I hope I never do!

Lobsters Questions Return to Top
Do you trap lobster?

What 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.

How 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 apiece.

How 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 lobster?
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.

How 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.

How 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.

Regulations Questions Return to Top
Why 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.

How 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.

Why 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 is here.

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