A Guide to Groundfishing and Lobstering on the Same Trip
This summary provides an overview of the restrictions and requirements that apply to operators wishing to fish for lobster and groundfish on the same trip. The regulations summarized here may be found at 50 CFR Part 648. Please contact the Sustainable Fisheries Division at (978) 281-9315 if you have further questions.
When Can You Fish for Lobster and Groundfish on a Single Trip?
You may fish for lobster and groundfish on a single trip in the following situations:
- You do not hold a federal groundfish permit and you are fishing for groundfish exclusively in state waters. You may not possess groundfish caught in state waters while hauling your traps in federal waters.
- You are fishing under a federal groundfish permit and a federal non-trap lobster permit. No lobster traps may be used. There is a limit of 100 lobsters per 24 hours, and a total limit of 500 lobsters. You may not harvest lobsters from Maine state waters or land lobsters in Maine per state regulations.
- You are hauling lobster traps on a declared groundfish trip on a federally permitted groundfish vessel (only federal permit categories A, C, and E), and are only using hook or pot/trap gear to target groundfish. You may not target groundfish with trawl or gillnet gears. You cannot haul traps while fishing under a Handgear A, Handgear B, or Category D hook permit because these permit categories only allow the use of hook gear when targeting groundfish. Handgear permits (A and B) also prohibit the use of electric reels, winches, or haulers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I haul traps while fishing for groundfish with a handgear permit?
No. When fishing for groundfish under a federal Handgear A, Handgear B, or Category D hook permit, you are not allowed to haul traps. You may only have handgear onboard the vessel (rod/reel, tub trawl), and cannot use electric reels, winches, or haulers to fish under a handgear permit.
Do I need to remove my trap hauler from my boat when fishing with my handgear permit?
No. You do not need to remove your trap hauler from your vessel. However, it is illegal to haul lobster gear when fishing for groundfish federal Handgear A, Handgear B, or Category D hook permit.
Can I fish for halibut and lobster on the same trip?
No, except for the circumstances outlined above.
What species are considered groundfish under federal regulations? What are the limits?
A vessel must have a federal groundfish permit to harvest the following species from federal waters: halibut, cod, haddock, pollock, redfish, white hake, winter flounder (blackback), witch flounder (gray sole), yellowtail flounder, and American plaice (dabs). All vessels may possess only one halibut per trip. Common pool vessels are subject to additional trip limits for other stocks. While sector vessels are not subject to trip limits for allocated stocks, sector vessels must keep all legal groundfish caught, and sectors must have quota available for all harvest by sector members. Sector fishermen should discuss their fishing plans with their sector manager.