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Author Topic: Proposed ban on using six-sided traps for blue crabs in MA  (Read 2577 times)
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fishgeek
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« on: January 22, 2021, 03:51:54 PM »

Hi everyone, I'm the crab biologist for the MA Division of Marine Fisheries.  I'd like to make everyone aware of a proposed regulation change regarding the use of six-sided traps for blue crabs.  Again, this is a proposed regulation change, there is nothing official yet.  If anyone would like to speak for or against this change, you will have an opportunity at an upcoming public meeting which thus far has not been scheduled.  I will post meeting information on this site when an official date has been announced, but it should be happening this winter via zoom. Below is some background on the proposed gear prohibition from the MA DMF newsletter. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me at [email protected].  

Blue Crab Traps Restrictions: DMF is proposing to prohibit the use of trap gear to take blue crabs and the retention of blue crabs taken by trap gear.

The blue crab fishery in Massachusetts is predominately recreational, as the 25-crab limit has constrained its commercialization. Typically, blue crabs are harvested by trot lines (sinking lines to which one or more baited hooks is attached), dip nets, or star traps (open-top or collapsible traps). However, DMF has received reports that the use of six-sided, fixed trap gear is becoming more common. During the summer of 2020, the Massachusetts Environmental Police documented the capture of northern diamond-backed terrapins in six-sided traps set in estuaries around Cape Cod. When these salt marsh turtles, which are listened as threatened under the state’s Endangered Species Act, are captured in trap gear they typically drown unless the gear is hauled immediately after capture. To prevent this, DMF is proposing to prohibit the use of trap gear in taking blue crabs.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2021, 04:47:07 PM by fishgeek » Logged
crewstation
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2021, 11:14:46 AM »

Does the proposed regulation prohibit collapsible traps, or just crab pots?
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Yuh catch 'um wid a neck an' a line.
Bile de water 'til 'e good 'n hot.
Den eat de crab strait from 'de pot.

Oh, de beer, he taste so chilly.
Drinks it 'til I gets too silly.
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If I doesn't fall down, I'll 'ave anudder.
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2021, 03:45:31 PM »

Has Mass required turtle excluders on pots?
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fishgeek
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2021, 03:51:45 PM »

Does the proposed regulation prohibit collapsible traps, or just crab pots?

No, there is no proposed rule change for collapsible traps.  This is being proposed because of the threat of killing diamondback terrapins, which are a threatened species.  There is no danger of drowning turtles in collapsible traps.  Collapsible traps would remain legal with no permit needed.  This proposed rule change only applies to catching blue crabs with lobster traps or six-sided blue crab pots (e.g. traditional Maryland style blue crab traps). 
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fishgeek
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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2021, 03:54:19 PM »

Has Mass required turtle excluders on pots?

No, excluder devices are not currently required.  
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2021, 12:46:40 PM »

If all you have is a rec season, then ban them, and a I'm usually against banning anything.

The excluders only work on the larger female turtles, and enforcement will be a nightmare with every bait shop  having to comply with the excluder requirement on the pots they sell...The small half size and smaller personel pots especially,  plus any made by the users.

Here we have excluders needed for certain areas, creeks, small rivers, coves, etc, waterfront homes and private docks all have a crab pot or several, and none of them either know, or care about the requirements and it's these areas that are most likely to have turtles, out in the open bays they're almost non existent.

So instead of dealing with all that, ban them for the rec's.
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fishgeek
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« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2021, 03:26:48 PM »

The public meeting will be held on March 2nd at 6pm via Zoom.  You can find more information at this link https://www.mass.gov/doc/020421-public-hearing-notice-on-recreational-fishing-measures/download.
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Craw
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2021, 10:02:50 PM »

Thank you Fishgeek for bringing this to our attention.  I live on the Weweantic River and I frequently see people leave traps in the water for several days and sometimes a week at a time.  One boat in particular puts his traps out on Sunday mornings and does not retrieve them until the following Sunday.  When he finally opens the traps, they contain many turtle shells which he casually flips overboard.

Last summer, someone abandoned two traps in the river.  After several weeks, I rowed out and pulled the traps myself.  One trap had three turtle shells and one had four.  That is callous and unnecessary.  I support the regulation change to protect the terrapins even though I own a six sided trap myself.  I have emailed the Director regarding my support.
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Mr. Ray III
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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2021, 10:38:45 PM »

There's a few other alternatives to this instead of banning anything.  1st, a bio-degradable patch in pots so abandoned or lost pots allow turtles to escape.  No, it won't save any turtles in the first year, but it won't continue to catch them.  2nd, the turtle excluder device.  I don't know what size turtles you have up there but every terrapin I've caught has been way to big to even be close to fitting into an excluder device.  And it would be incredible easy to refit any pots.  You won't be able to police a bait shop selling a pot without a turtle excluder...just the fishermen.   
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2021, 03:42:04 AM »

Any update on this crab pot ban? Personally I use collapsible traps but I'm curious if there was a ruling made on this.

It is somewhat ironic now that the legality of collapsible traps has been defined, the DMF is looking into banning crab pots.

Many coastal MA landowners that have issues with out-of-towners crabbing from boats in their "backyards" with collapsible traps and hand lines may be pretty pissed to find out the crab pots at the end of their docks could soon become outlawed this year laugh The DMF will make a fortune on fines if this passes with nothing more than a couple EPs in a boat inspecting docks all along the cape.

If their pots are killing terrapins I'm all for this ban. The terrapins that encounter my foxymates come and go as they please.

« Last Edit: April 03, 2021, 05:17:17 AM by chef » Logged

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fishgeek
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« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2021, 05:42:05 PM »

The proposal to prohibit the harvest of blue crabs with traps (commercial or recreational) was approved by the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission by unanimous vote.  A summary of the March business meeting can be found at the following link-  
https://www.mass.gov/doc/march-18-2021-mfac-business-meeting-summary/download
The official advisory has not been released yet.  When it is released, I will post it here.  For more information on what the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission is, check out this link- https://www.mass.gov/orgs/marine-fisheries-advisory-commission

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Kaninekleenup
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« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2021, 09:13:10 AM »

Craw, we have to find out whom we report these traps being in the River to. I hate seeing these traps sitting out there killing turtles.
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speedracer
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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2021, 07:26:22 PM »

https://www.mass.gov/doc/041621-new-prohibition-on-trap-fishing-for-blue-crabs/download
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fishgeek
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« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2021, 08:13:49 AM »


Thanks for posting that, speedracer. 
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fishgeek
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« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2021, 08:21:29 AM »

Craw, we have to find out whom we report these traps being in the River to. I hate seeing these traps sitting out there killing turtles.

Kaninekleenup, the number to call is (800) 632-8075.  That is the number to the MA Environmental Police.  One of their officers found crab pots in Wareham with dead terrapins last year.  That is what got the ball rolling on prohibiting blue crab traps.   
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Craw
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« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2021, 08:17:33 AM »

I called the EPO's last summer about leaving crab pots in the water unattended.  I specifically asked the person who answered if it was legal to leave blue crab pots in the water for several days.  I also explained about pots being left for weeks in the Weweantic.  The person responded, "Huh.  That's a good question.  I'll have to look into that and call you back."  Of course, I never received a return telephone call.

The problem with the Weweantic is that the Wareham Harbormaster's boats do not fit under the Route 6 bridge and no law enforcement ever launch at the 195 boat ramp.    The EPO's occasionally drive through the boat ramp parking lot and speak to the people crabbing on the ramp, but they never go out on the river.  If you are doing something illegal on the river, all you have to do is stay out on the water until the "black truck" leaves the ramp and you are home free.  Therefore, the Weweantic and Sippican Rivers north of the Route 6 bridge are relatively unregulated.
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Craw
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« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2021, 08:28:21 AM »

Also, Kanine, don't bother calling the Wareham Harbormaster/NATURAL RESOURCES Officer.  They have no interest in enforcing the blue crab regulations.  I was at the Harbormaster's office one time and told the clerk that I wanted to buy a blue crab permit.  The harbormaster came out of his office and said, "Bah.  Don't bother.  I'm not going after anybody for blue crabs."  I said that the regulations required me to have a permit if I was using pots.  He laughed, said "Forget it." and went back in his office.

I guess that "natural resource" is not worth protecting.
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chef
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« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2021, 04:12:26 AM »

Also, Kanine, don't bother calling the Wareham Harbormaster/NATURAL RESOURCES Officer.  They have no interest in enforcing the blue crab regulations.  I was at the Harbormaster's office one time and told the clerk that I wanted to buy a blue crab permit.  The harbormaster came out of his office and said, "Bah.  Don't bother.  I'm not going after anybody for blue crabs."  I said that the regulations required me to have a permit if I was using pots.  He laughed, said "Forget it." and went back in his office.

I guess that "natural resource" is not worth protecting.

Without a commercial fishery and mild rec pressure, I dont blame him for a lack concern regarding blue crabs. Hopefully the terrapin issue will up the vigilance in the areas you stated. I dont think the DMF wants the egg on their face over the extinction of terrapins in MA. The moonbats would be in an uproar.
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« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2021, 02:37:35 PM »

I've seen numerous people dropping 6 sided traps in some of the estuaries around the mid-cape marshes.  I haven't checked them, but I'm sure turtles get trapped in those Sad  I know many times the traps contain 10+ female crabs that just shred each other to pieces over the days they are trapped in there.  I'm sure that Diamondback Terrapins could get trapped in them as well.

Glad to hear that this passed.
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« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2021, 01:34:15 PM »

I'm a bit confused on the six sided traps mentioned here.  Assuming those are the closed lobster type traps.  I use 5 Foxy Mate 66 open box traps. Are they still legal as I attend to them throughout my trip usually about 3 hours?
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