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American Lobster Trap Transfer Program Information

August 01, 2022

The Lobster Trap Transfer Program allows permit holders the flexibility to buy and sell trap allocation for Lobster Conservation Management Areas 2, 3, and the Outer Cape.

Have any Trap Transfer Program rules changed since last year?

No. The regulations governing trap transfers and the process of transferring traps are the same as last year. 

Are there regulatory changes that could affect this program in the future?

Yes. NOAA Fisheries is considering future changes to the federal lobster regulations that were recommended by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). These changes include limiting the number of traps a federal permit holder can have in Areas 2 and 3 and reducing the maximum trap limit in Area 3.  We published a proposed rule on July 11, 2022 (87 FR 41084), outlining the potential changes to trap allocations.  Any new measures could impact your trap allocations as early as fishing year 2023.  You should stay informed of potential changes, and know that you transfer traps at your own risk.  You can follow lobster management updates on the NOAA Fisheries website and the ASMFC website.

Who can I contact if I have questions?

If you have any questions about your application, permit, or trap allocation, please contact the Analysis and Program Support Division at (978) 282-8483.  Please contact the Sustainable Fisheries Division at (978) 281-9315 for information about the regulations and requirements of the Trap Transfer Program.

What information is available online?

NOAA Fisheries posted several items on the website including:  An updated version of the Trap Transfer Program Guide, including a worksheet of examples that walk you through the transfer process; the application form; and a list of contact information and trap allocations for Area 2, 3, and Outer Cape permit holders. The items are posted on the forms and applications webpage and the trap transfer program tab of the lobster species webpage. Hard copies of this information are available by request from the contacts listed above.

What do the allocations posted on the website represent?

The individual allocations posted represent the number of traps available for the 2023 fishing year. 

Is any of this information confidential?

No. All information posted on the website is publicly available information.

Will NOAA Fisheries help broker trap transfers?

No. Potential trap transfer participants must contact each other directly to negotiate trap transfers.

Will NOAA Fisheries provide price information?

No. NOAA Fisheries does not regulate the value of transfer transactions and are not asking participants to provide price information. Potential trap transfer participants must negotiate trap transfers and prices before submitting an application.

When may I submit an application?

You may submit applications from August 1, 2022, through September 30, 2022.  Approved transfers will take effect May 1, 2023.

This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.