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Buoy Line Trap Gear Modifications

Information regarding commercial and recreational buoy line trap gear modifications.

2022 Buoy Line Marking Requirements

​​​​​​Effective February 1, 2022 all commercial trap fishermen are subject to new buoy line marking requirements. This applies to all commercial lobster and crab trap fishermen, regardless of the LCMA fished, and all state waters black sea bass, scup, and conch pot fishermen. The new marking requirements are described in the bullets below and in this image:

  • State Waters Pot/Trap Gear. There is to be one solid red mark measuring at least 3’ in the surface system (i.e., first 12’ from buoy). In the body of the buoy line, there are to be at least four solid or non-solid red marks measuring at least 2’ with at least two marks in the top 50% of the buoy line and two marks in the bottom 50% of the buoy line and no more than 60’ between marks. If the buoy line is solid red or candy cane weak rope, then these marks are to be white in color.  In state waters, there are to be no colored marks other than the described state mandatory red (or white) marks within the buoy line.

  • Federal Waters Lobster and Crab Trap Gear (LCMA 1, 2, and OCC). Within the surface system of the buoy line, there is to be one solid red mark measuring at least 3’ and no more than 1’ below the red mark there is to be a solid green mark measuring at least 1’. In the body of the buoy line, there are to be three solid or non-solid marks, with at least one mark in the top third, one in the middle third, and one in the bottom third. Each mark is to be comprised of at least 1’ of red and 1’ of green. While the red and green marks need not be adjacent, they cannot be spaced out more than 6” apart. If the buoy line is red, then the red marks are to be white in color.  Fishermen are required to have a green mark of at least one foot next to all red marks in the buoy line.

  • Use of Weak Contrivances for Buoy Line Marks. If fishermen are utilizing a weak contrivance that is red (e.g. red or candy cane weak rope) or has a red tracer in it (e.g., certain South Shore sleeves) the weak contrivance may be used as a red mark within the body of the buoy line.
  • Solid or Non-Solid Marks. Solid marks are those marks that are marks within the buoy line that are continuous and not containing gaps and spaces. This may include the use of paint, tape, or an insert of the appropriately colored line. Non-solid marks are those that are not continuous, such as tracers. 

Weak Inserts and Buoy Line Diameter Rules

Beginning in 2021, commercial trap fishermen were required to fish weak rope to reduce the risk of serious injury and mortality to right whales. Accordingly, all commercial trap fishermen fishing in state waters fishing lobster and crab traps, black sea bass pots, scup pots, or conch pots, are required to fish buoy lines that:

  • Break when exposed to 1,700 pounds of tension. This may be achieved by fishing specially manufactured buoy lines with a custom 1,700 pound breaking strength or by inserting NOAA Fisheries approved contrivances into the top 75% of the buoy line every 60’. See below under "Approved Contrivances" for what is available for use.
  • Commercial: buoy line maximum diameter of 3/8”
  • Recreational: buoy line maximum diameter of 5/16”

Additional Resources for

Approved Contrivances

  • Rocky Mount Cordage Company’s fully formed 1,700 pound weak rope in Red (3/8” diameter) and Candy Cane (3/8” diameter)
  • Novabraid break-away “South Shore” sleeve
  • Lazy or 4 Tuck Splice with Red or Candy Cane Rope
  • Lazy or 3 Tuck Splice with Red or Candy Cane Rope
  • Butt or End Splice with Red or Candy Cane Rope
  • Eye Loop Splice with Red or Candy Cane Rope
  • Cut Splice with 3 Tucks with Red Rope Only
  • Square Knot, One Tuck with Red Rope Only
  • To see photos of these contrivances, click here

Additional Resources for

Recreational Buoy Line Trap Gear Modifications

For 2021, DMF implemented two new measures affecting the recreational lobster and crab trap fishery to protect right whales:

  • Recreational lobster and crab trap fishermen are required to fish buoy lines with a diameter not to exceed 5/16".
  • All buoyed recreational lobster and crab trap gear is to be removed from state waters between November 1 and May 15 annually. 
  • Recreational lobster and crab trap fishermen are not to use weak inserts. 

Additional Resources for

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