Small, sublegal lobsters being returned
at new location

Sublegal lobsters waiting to be released

Lobster relocation

All dredging proposals in Maine are required to have a benthic (seafloor) survey conducted to determine possible impacts associated with the proposed activity.  In view of the importance of lobsters to the commercial fisheries in Maine, if the benthic survey shows lobster density to meet or exceed 0.1 lobster/ (or 1 lobster/10), removal and relocation of the lobsters is usually required prior to dredging as a condition of the project permit. MER has planned, coordinated, and executed several lobster relocation efforts, including the 1998-99 Portland Harbor dredge relocation project, the largest such effort ever undertake that resulted in the removal and relocation of nearly 34,000 lobsters.

Removal is accomplished using modified commercial lobster traps that trap lobsters of all sizes and as small as 1½ to 2 inches long.  Traps are hauled by commercial lobster fishermen working under contract to MER and covered by a Special License that exempts them from certain laws and regulations related to allowable fishing gear and lobster size restrictions.  Some relocation efforts can be completed in just a few days, but others associated with large projects can take months to complete. Lobsters are sometimes tagged with either numbered plastic tags or transmitters to study their movement and, in the case of relocation, to evaluate the effectiveness of the effort.

Lobster Mitigation Plan

Modified trap designed to hold lobsters of all sizes
An example of a tag used to track lobsters