Lobster fishing is associated with two types of fishing, inshore and offshore. According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), more than 98% of the total Gulf of Maine catch comes from the “near-shore” area.
Inshore is defined as state waters from 0-3 miles and Offshore being waters between 3-200 miles.
Common fishing practice is to head offshore during winter and spring, when the deeper waters are warmer than the inshore waters and more suitable for lobsters.
Inshore fishing occurs in the summer months. This practice, however, seems to be changing with some lobstermen.
“They’re finding the lobsters are holding on out there, so rather than shift inshore, they stay out there,” our own Patrice McCarron said. “Some guys say they might catch a little less during the summer, but it’s worth it to fish in a less-congested area.”Patrice McCarron
Fishing offshore, however, comes with different rules and regulations. In order to fish beyond the three-mile state water boundary, Maine fishermen must have a federal permit. Of the total lobster fishing fleet in Maine, about 20% has a federal permit for offshore fishing. While this number is staying relatively stable, the prices of these permits has been on the rise. Offshore fishing means longer days and more hours out on the water. Lobstermen also need bigger boats to handle the rough waters and to accommodate a larger crew.
“For years, they sold for $10,000,” said McCarron. Today, she said, that figure has doubled for Maine fishermen. McCarron additionally notes, fishing in offshore waters is complicated by weather and sea conditions. The boats must be large enough and carry modern navigational electronics in order to travel safely.