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DMR Home > About DMR > RFPs > Ventless Survey

Regional Ventless Trap Program: Seeking Industry Participants


The Department of Marine Resources, in cooperation with the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation, seeks three industry participants for the Regional Ventless Trap Program through a competitive bid process. First initiated in 2006, this project will run during June, July and August 2015. Interested parties will need to complete the application to identify vessel specifications, daily rate and preferred sampling leg. Three of nine legs are open for bid, covering (1) Canadian border to Addison, (2) North Penobscot Bay and (3) Saco Bay to New Hampshire. Each leg will have 75-100 small mesh traps randomly positioned at three depths. The traps will be baited and sampled 2 times each month on 3 night soaks making a total 3 day commitment each month. This is an opportunity to participate in a cooperative research project supported by industry and science from Maine through New York. Any questions or requests for applications, please contact Kathleen Reardon at (207) 633-9404 or

Instructions, application, and more information

For more information, please open these links. PDF files may require Adobe Reader software (download here free).

All proposals/bids must be received by March 10, 2015. Standard mail is preferred, but email or fax is acceptable. Please send applications to:

Kathleen Reardon
Regional Ventless Trap Program
Maine Department of Marine Resources
PO Box 8, McKown Point Rd
West Boothbay Harbor, ME 04575
Email :
Fax: (207) 633-9579


In the review of the most recent Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) stock assessment one of the strongest recommendations made was that the data quality needs to be upgraded significantly. This upgrade is particularly important for the spatial distribution of lobster length frequency and estimates of relative abundance.

Fisheries-dependent trap sampling data historically have not been used to generate relative abundance indices for American lobster because of biases associated with the way these data are collected. Lobstermen fish their gear in locations where lobsters are known to congregate in order to maintain optimal catch rates. As lobsters move lobstermen move their gear. To address the need to develop a robust time series of relative abundance a cooperative random stratified ventless trap survey has been designed to generate estimates of lobster relative abundance and recruitment.

Project Objectives

  1. Accurately characterize relative abundance and size-distribution of American lobster from Maine through New York.
  2. Develop a coastwide fishery independent monitoring program for American lobster using ventless traps.
  3. Improve collaborative relationship between the commercial lobster industry, fisheries scientists and managers in the interest of strengthening our combined understanding of the lobster resource.

Survey Design

In order to sample the lobster population from Maine through New York the overall sampling effort has been divided into two regions the: Gulf of Maine and Southern New England. These regions are further subdivided based on the National Marine Fisheries Service statistical areas. Maine is responsible for covering three statistical areas. The DMR seeks to contract industry participants to cover one or more of the following sampling legs:

*Leg 1 – Canadian border to Beals Island
  Leg 2 – Jonesport to MDI
  Leg 3 – MDI to Isle Au Haut
  Leg 4 – Southern Penobscot Bay
*Leg 5 – North Penobscot Bay
  Leg 6 – Muscongus Bay
  Leg 7 – Pemaquid Point to Casco Bay
  Leg 8 – Casco Bay
*Leg 9 – Saco Bay to New Hampshire

* indicated legs open for bid in 2015.

Traps will be set in three depth ranges (0‐10, 11‐20 and 21‐30 fathoms) at randomly selected locations within each leg. All traps, line and buoys will be supplied to participating fishermen. Traps will be rigged as triples. Each trap will be hauled twice each month on three day soaks. The lobster catch will be measured by a sea sampler and immediately returned to the ocean.

Additional questions, request for copies of the application and information can be directed toward Kathleen Reardon at 207.633.9404.

Frequently Asked Questions for Regional Ventless Trap Survey

  1. How many days total am I bidding for on each leg?
    There will be a total of nine contracted days for each leg each year. Each month participants will schedule a week to bait traps and haul traps twice on three nights set. The project will run from June through August this year; depending on funding we may be able to extend the program into the future. If funding is available, this bid would be good for 3 years before the survey leg is put out to bid again.
  2. Can we haul/bait on Sundays?
    Yes, we will be operating under a special license that will exempt us from hauling on Sundays during the summer months.
  3. Can I haul my normal traps the same day I haul Ventless traps?
    No, each trip will be dedicated to exclusively hauling experimental traps. But you could haul the Ventless traps in the morning, bring sampler to port, and go out and haul your own traps in the afternoon.You just cannot haul Ventless and commercial traps on the same ‘trip’.
  4. Each leg covers a large area, are we expected to haul all traps in a single day?
    Yes. In some cases nearly 100 miles may be covered (though roughly 70-80 miles is the typical distance). Extremely isolated sites may be eliminated simply because of logistical constraints.
  5. What if we miss a day due to weather or a breakdown?
    We would go the next available day.
  6. Who is picking the locations to set traps?
    The locations will be randomly selected by the DMR. Participants will be asked to set gear as near as possible to selected coordinates to ensure sites are “random”.
  7. What depths are traps going to be set in?
    There are three depth strata to be covered 0-10, 11-20 and 21-30 fathoms.
  8. How many traps does my boat need to carry?
    You will need to safely transport, set, haul and recover 75-100 traps. Not all traps will need to be recovered each month.
  9. Are the traps left in the water between months?
    Yes, unless it is convenient to bring the traps ashore. We may need to shift some traps out of high traffic areas to reduce chances of trap loss.
  10. Who measures the lobsters we catch?
    A DMR sea sampler will be on board each hauling day to measure all lobsters, and fish bycatch, but the captain and crew are responsible for filling out a logbook with counts for lobsters and crabs.
  11. Can we keep legal lobsters we catch?
    No, all lobster and crabs will be returned immediately to the water.
  12. Will experimental traps count towards my personal trap limit?
  13. What size boat are you looking for?
    Boats will need to carry a maximum of 75-100 traps, and be able to cover each leg in a safe timely manner.
  14. What kind of bait will be used?
    Herring would be the first choice, but availability may dictate other bait types.
  15. I have a lobster/crab conviction; can I participate?
    Generally a lobster or crab conviction (within the last seven years) will prevent participation in experimental projects; however, an appeal can be made to the commissioner. A conviction will not impact your ranking within the application process. All participants will be approved by the Maine Marine Patrol.
  16. Why is the project only in the summer months, when fishing doesn’t pick up in my area until the Fall?
    We are limited by funds to three months, and it was decided that collecting data before and immediately after the summer molt would provide the most valuable information in the limited time period.