The dataset provides a ready reference for county boundaries, names and county codes at 1:24,000 scale. Not for use at scales larger than 1:24,000. Data at this scale is suitable for detailed studies and local planning.
The lobster data layer represents the compilation of data provided by 29 lobstermen from Camp Ellis to Bar Harbor. Because the lobster fishery is highly territorial, each marine area represented in the data is referenced to the shore-side communities identified as actively fishing there. A community’s fishing areas were either identified in our interviews by a fisherman from that community, or listed by fishermen from other harbors who fish in overlapping areas. The harbor data does not represent an exhaustive list of the communities that fish in identified areas. As shown in the inset map, lobster fishing tends to be most concentrated and also most discretely defined by harbor in inshore areas, with areas becoming less dense and more shared further offshore.
In conversations with many of the fishermen, it is clear that Maine lobstermen fish in most of the waters out to the federal Area 1-Area 3 boundary (25600 loran line). Differences in regulation of these two areas make it difficult for fishermen from Maine to fish in both areas, as they are required to adhere to the most restrictive regulations in any of the areas they fish to all of the areas they fish
It is interesting to note that the groundfish closed areas were frequently identified as key places where lobstermen fish without having to worry about groundfish boats dragging up their traps. Conversely, the area east of Jeffreys Ledge represents a place identified by lobstermen as having significantly fewer lobster fishermen due to the higher concentration of draggers.
The Lobster Zone lines also play a significant role in where lobster fishermen fish. Due to the lower trap limit in Zone E, fishermen from Harpswell and Cundy’s Harbor noted that they jump over Zone E and go further east to avoid the more restrictive regulations. The area near Platts Bank near the Zone E/F line receives heavy fishing pressure from both Zone F and as well as Zone E fishermen. The Zone F/G overlap area was also identified as being an area of higher trap density.
Seasonality plays a key role in the offshore lobster industry, as those areas most densely fished generally follow the movement of lobster migratory patterns and avoid potential gear conflicts.
The data gives a sense of the vast area fished off the coast of Maine as well as the complexity of fisheries and gear types across areas. It shows areas of fishing from only selected harbors or regions, however, and represent an incomplete “snapshot” from an ongoing project. It should not be viewed as representing a complete data set for Maine’s fisheries, but rather as one step towards understanding fisheries-use patterns offshore and methods for documenting them.