Commercial Fisheries News - May 1999
Care in taking lobsters from traps
Here are a few suggestions for how to minimize damage such as claw loss when tending gear:
- If a lobster is gripping the trap with one claw, it will often release
its grip if you hold the other claw shut. If a leg is entwined in the
trap, try to disentangle it.
- If two undersized lobsters are gripping each other, throw them overboard
together. They will let go of each other when they hit the water. If
the fighting lobsters are keepers, put them in a container of water
onboard, where they are likely to let go of each other.
- If a lobster grips you rather than the trap, there are a few ways
to escape with both you and the lobster intact.
- For example, if a lobster has grabbed the index
finger of your right hand with its large crusher
claw, the last
thing you want is to have the lobster tighten its
grip. Therefore, the worst thing
you can do is to let the lobster dangle in midair.
- Hold the lobster gently with your free hand to
help make it feel secure. If you can, prop the lobster
up in your free
hand with your fingers at the base of the walking
legs and your thumb on top of
the carapace. (Lobsters will often relax if you
hold them from underneath their bodies.)
- Plan A: Have your helper hold the other
claw closed (if you are alone put the lobster down
rail or deck and close the other claw yourself).
If this does not entice the lobster to release its
grip on you, then
turn to plan
- Plan B: Place the lobster in your holding
tank or in a bucket of water. As soon as the
lobster figures it can escape from you, it'll
let go and
hopefully, without any part of you.
- If possible, toss undersized lobsters overboard so that
the tail hits the water first because this:
- Flushes water through the gills in the desired breathing direction;
- Helps protect eggs being incubated on females' abdomens; and
- Puts the lobster in the appropriate position for its escape behavior
(i.e., the tail flip response).
These steps, while taking
extra time, will be beneficial to lobster health, growth,
and quality, and will therefore benefit harvesters.