About the Lobster Traps for Sale Photograph
Walking around North Rustico harbor on Prince Edward Island we came along a fishing village and these used wooden traps for sale. Lobster fishermen sell off unwanted wooden traps to tourists who strap them on to the top of their car and take them home as garden follies and potential coffee tables.
We lived on Mount Desert Island for seven years and many of our friends and neighbors were lobster fishermen. We had the luxury of paying boat prices (wholesale) and dining with the people who actually went out and caught our entree for the evening.
It was a great experience. How many times does one actually get to catch, cook and eat their protein? Or eat something so fresh that it is alive on minute and on your plate within ten?
Driving by the fishing harbors of Mount Desert Island every day, watching boats being hauled up and down the roads with the changing seasons and watching lobstermen work on traps in the trap yard and dropping them off in seas around the island, you get a sense of the local traditions and the equipment used.
Boat shapes, lengths, styles as well as lobster trap styles. Wire vs. traditional wooden traps, type of ropes used, baits used etc. Some of the equipment is determined by fishing regulations. Other equipment comes down to tradition and sometimes superstition.
Traveling up to Canada to the fishing areas of Atlantic Canada and Prince Edward Island, it was striking to see the difference in fishing equipment. For thing the boats up north from the Downeast Maine area are longer.
This reflects the distance the boats travel to the fishing grounds. Around the rocky coast of Maine and Mount Desert Island, with all of its islands and harbors, the lobsters tend to move closer to shore. There are plenty of rocky hiding places for the lobsters and they migrate in to spawn.
In the shallow sandy bottoms around Prince Edward Island and the Bay of Fundy, the lobsters tend to be farther out and they are caught in the spring and fall seasons when they are on the move. In the summer down time the lobster men of Prince Edward Island, take tourists on deep sea fishing charters and in the winter the boats are hauled out of the water. The lobstering on PEI also tends to be more long line fishing with traps spread out over a large area all connected. On MDI they are more likely to have a single rope and buoy on each trap.
Back on Mount Desert Island the boats tend to be out all year long. The other difference is the lobster traps. Back in Maine the traditional wooden traps have long been retired. Wire traps, which last longer, have replaced the wooden lobster traps.
The shapes are different too. The wire traps are rectangular which allow for easier stacking in front of ones house in the off season. While the wooden ones have a rounded top designed to roll over in the waves if they land upside down.
One of the biggest issues in lobster fishing is the loss of traps, which can happen easily in a store, if a boat cuts through the rope, or if a feuding lobster man cuts someone rope on purpose. Regulations in both fishing areas have their own set of rules for allowing the traps to disintegrate over time so a lost trap doesn’t become a killing ground. In Maine certain parts of the trap are made to fall apart over time. In Canada the traditional twine netting falls apart.
Both wire and traditional traps work in similar ways. The lobsters move into the trap and then supposedly can’t get out. Although studies have show that some times lobsters can go in and out of the traps. The trick is timing your haul when the maximum lobsters are in the trap. Lobstermen I’ve known call this “soaking”. As in “I like to soak my traps for two days”.
More photographs of lobster fishing and Prince Edward Island: http://edward-fielding.pixels.com/art/prince+edward+island