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Old 06-12-2018, 01:47 PM   #1
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Lobster Pots in the middle of a channel

I saw this twice last weekend and it's getting a bit frustrating. In two different places fishermen decided to drop a lobster pot in the middle of a channel. This is in between a series of red/green buoys. They were different colors so, it was two different licenses involved.

One was coming into Watch Hil Pass in Rhode Island. This can be heavily congested with traffic and the pass slices between a rocky shore and a long set of shoals.

The other was in a much narrower channel. Again, right between the red and green buoys.

In either location, getting a line wrapped in the prop and getting disabled could be a big issue.

Shouldn't there be regulations preventing this behavior?
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:01 PM   #2
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Great question! Iím sure any regulations would be from local jurisdictions. I deal with many crab traps/markers and often wonder the same thing!

I especially hate the markers painted black or dark green!
In my opinion, these things may be the greatest hazard to navigation.
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:08 PM   #3
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I really have a few other concerns, but they're mostly somewhat selfish.

Last year, I passed one that was about 6" underwater at high tide. Lobsterman simply didn't use enough line to account for the depth at high tide. I noticed it it about 10 feet from my bow. I was able to chop the throttle and throw it into neutral in time.

The other reason is, I travel at night and have little chance of catching these at night. Part of me feels as though their choice of where to fish now somewhat impedes my ability to safely travel. It's a big ocean, can't we all share responsibly?
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:16 PM   #4
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they wont be there much longer.
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:23 PM   #5
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All the way from Jersey to Key West there are pots in the middle of the channel.

Some places Fish & Game have bouys that prohibit it...like in the Chesapeake....and it is honored somewhat. Other places like Jersey have laws against it, but they ae rarely enforced.

While I can feel for waterman, I always felt that if you could prove that you hit a pot in the channel, they should be liable for damages.... yet the argument that the pot was moved by a person or nature could be strong....unless a simple picture shows a whole row of buoys running down the channel... which is pretty common!
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:38 PM   #6
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A good case for line cutters / spurs on the prop shaft...
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Old 06-12-2018, 02:52 PM   #7
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A good case for line cutters / spurs on the prop shaft...
According to some divers, cutters are hit or miss.....
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Old 06-12-2018, 03:20 PM   #8
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Apparently some work on some lines, nets and tarps..

Looks like the video says the cutter near the leading edge of the prop is the best location for variable debris.
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Old 06-12-2018, 04:04 PM   #9
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Clearly you havenít been to Maine:-). But I couldnít agree more about them being a hazard to navigation. They should be prohibited from designated channels, but frequently completely block them.

Sharp cutters and more throttle.
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Old 06-12-2018, 04:24 PM   #10
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There are approximately 3 million lobster pots in the water in Maine. About 1/3 of them have buoys attached. They are absolutely everywhere including in mooring fields and in the fairways between docks at marinas. It definitely drives me crazy but its a fact of life in Maine. A sharp eye and line cutters (for those the eye misses) are a necessity. After a couple thousand miles in Maine waters I've gotten somewhat used to it but I still hate it.

What really scares me are the fish weirs at or just under the surface of the water. No shaft cutters will save you from them and RI has a number of them.

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Old 06-12-2018, 04:45 PM   #11
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Our solution. Hold a straight course (but do not back up). Works great for us in the Maine minefields.
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Old 06-12-2018, 05:40 PM   #12
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Report it to the USCG and the local authority. Can't hurt, may help. I recall the one time we took the inside route down the Keys, after about Channel 5 you could tell where the ICW was because it was filled with pots. The place to put a trap is right at the bottom of an embankment. In many other places, the pots tell you where the real edge of the channel is.
We went into Watch Hill (Napatree Beach anchorage, actually) a few times, didn't notice a problem this time of year on the kind of weird channel over from Stonington. Are there pots there now? We went out of there in pea soup fog once, man that would have been a real PITA.
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Old 06-12-2018, 06:30 PM   #13
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The marina we docked at on the Chesapeake had a slip for a Dept of Natural Resources police. I asked one day why the channels were not clear of crab pots. He advised me that there are several "Float Free zones" on the Bay and then admitted that there were often crab traps in them as a result of them being dragged into the FFZ by barges and other boats.
As far as other areas, he asked me why I felt I had any more rights to any piece of water than the waterman did, who is trying to make a living. He also felt that the crab trap markers kept captains from just putting the boat on autopilot and not paying attention.

In the end, it was clear, he was not concerned where the floats were located.

The worst we have found have been in the Albermarle Sound.

A friends boat suffered over $7,000 damage when they started up the motor and put it in gear to pull forward and release a mooring pendant. They had not seen nor expected a lobster trap to be in the mooring field.
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Old 06-12-2018, 06:47 PM   #14
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“What really scares me are the fish weirs at or just under the surface of the water. No shaft cutters will save you from them and RI has a number of them.“

This may be the first year in some time that I haven’t heard of someone being caught in the fish traps off of Newport / Sakonnet or Narragansett.......yet. However the area in which they are allowed is clearly marked on the chart. Stay out of those areas unless you have clear and calm conditions. Then pay very close attention.
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Old 06-12-2018, 08:13 PM   #15
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The marina we docked at on the Chesapeake had a slip for a Dept of Natural Resources police. I asked one day why the channels were not clear of crab pots. He advised me that there are several "Float Free zones" on the Bay and then admitted that there were often crab traps in them as a result of them being dragged into the FFZ by barges and other boats.
As far as other areas, he asked me why I felt I had any more rights to any piece of water than the waterman did, who is trying to make a living. He also felt that the crab trap markers kept captains from just putting the boat on autopilot and not paying attention.

In the end, it was clear, he was not concerned where the floats were located.

The worst we have found have been in the Albermarle Sound.

A friends boat suffered over $7,000 damage when they started up the motor and put it in gear to pull forward and release a mooring pendant. They had not seen nor expected a lobster trap to be in the mooring field.
I used to be at a marina in the Back River Chesapeake Bay. Several years were real bad for traps. We had to constantly dodge and veer, traps were spaced every 50 to 100 feet and all randomly tossed around. Then the crab population plummeted and limits were in place and many traps disappeared.

One year on a haul both props had that 1/4 " rope wrapped tightly around the shafts in a ball. My prop has churned and destroyed a couple of those floats, and they are tough. They thump hard on the hull when the prop grabs them.
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Old 06-12-2018, 08:14 PM   #16
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Not sure about anywhere else, but in Maine, the theory is the fishermen were there first. Someone put the channel in their fishing grounds, not the other way around.

They will put their gear where the lobsters are. Period. You are legally obligated to maintain a proper lookout anyway. Your failure to do so is not their fault. And if you're not watching for lobster buoys, you won't see a log, or any other floating hazards, either.

That said, yes, there are idiots among them who leave the buoys just below the surface at high tide, and others who fill a channel or narrow passage to the point it's almost impassible. And don't even get me started about the buffoons who fish with toggles on the buoys, strung across the channel like a prop trap. All part of the joy of boating.
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Old 06-12-2018, 10:27 PM   #17
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Does anyone produce "amateur" floating-mine-clearing gear for recreational vessels?
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Old 06-13-2018, 12:15 AM   #18
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They will put their gear where the lobsters are. Period. You are legally obligated to maintain a proper lookout anyway. Your failure to do so is not their fault. And if you're not watching for lobster buoys, you won't see a log, or any other floating hazards, either.
If you look at the history of lobstering in Maine, that isn't really the case. There are areas there where you cannot possibly avoid them, they are less than one boat length apart. I've been anchored, and had lobstermen drop traps 10' off my stern and across my anchor chain as I watched.

The density of lobster and crab buoys south of Maine are a minor inconvenience, compared to what goes on there. Here's an example of a less dense area. In the really dense areas, there is no time to shoot a picture. All the little dots are buoys extending to the horizon.

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Old 06-13-2018, 03:07 AM   #19
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Our solution. Hold a straight course (but do not back up). Works great for us in the Maine minefields.

Very ingenious system thank you for sharing Sir. I shall pass to a friend of mine who owns a GB 32 single engine. We deal with same issues here mainly on the Spanish coasts.
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:53 AM   #20
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Our solution. Hold a straight course (but do not back up). Works great for us in the Maine minefields.

Do you have any vibrations issues with that setup?
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