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New Lobstermen Carry On V-Notch Legacy

Maine lobstermen not only value their harvest but have an eye for the future as well. They protect known breeders from being landed and sold by notching a small “V” in the tail of an egg-carrying female lobster by using a special V-notch tool. Research has determined that Maine’s lobster population continues to thrive due to this practice.

“We are benefiting right now from the stewardship of previous generations.” - From a Downeast lobsterman

Over the years, some lobstermen have noticed a decline in the number of V-notched females coming up in their traps. In 2018, a Mount Desert lobsterman was concerned enough to approach Stephen Brooks of Brooks Trap Mill and offer funds if Brooks Trap Mill would ensure that all newly licensed harvesters would receive a new V-notch tool. These stainless-steel tools are preferred by scientists and by Maine Marine Patrol as they are less likely to tear a lobster’s flipper because they make a clean cut.

Brooks Trap reached out to the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) for help in bringing the project to life. Three years later, the third batch of “Welcome to the Industry” boxes were recently mailed out to 45 newly licensed lobstermen. Each box contains a V-notch tool engraved with the license number of the harvester, a complimentary MLA membership and an assortment of Brooks Trap gear. The MLA also includes a handout with images of accepted V-notches in the packet.

V-notching began as early as 1917 when lobstermen took it upon themselves to mark egg-bearing females in order to ensure an abundance of young lobsters in the future. NEFSC photo.

Both Brooks Trap and the MLA are deeply grateful to the anonymous lobsterman who started the project. “Maine lobstermen believe in V-notching because they know it works,” said Patrice McCarron, MLA’s executive director. “It’s nice to get them started with the right tools so they can help ensure a future for our industry.”

From left to right, MLA executive director Patrice McCarron, Stephen Brooks, MLA membership director Antonina Pelletier. MLA photos.


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