National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



We like a big, fat Christmas tree in our household. If it won't scrape the edges of the sliding door in the kitchen or tickle the family room ceiling, we don't want it.

However impressive and grand we think our tree may be, I'm afraid it pales in comparison to one in Rockland, Maine, home of the World's Largest Lobster Trap Tree, which stands 35 feet tall. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Trap Tree tradition.

Every year since 2003, Rockland Main Street Inc. has built the Trap Tree. Rockland Maine Street Inc., one of 10 Main Street Communities in Maine, is part of a national program that aims to sustain vibrant downtowns through historic preservation, economic restructuring, promotion, design and organization.

According to the organization's website, each year, volunteers build the Trap Tree using 152 traps that Brooks Trap Mill in Thomaston, Maine, constructs especially for Rockland Main Street, each one weighing 40 pounds. A special engineering plan enables them to build the tree to its lofty height.

They decorate the big fella, too. It's festooned with 480 feet of garland and 125 buoys that local lobstering families brought to decorate the first Trap Tree in 2003. The tree is lighted from the inside and twinkle lights wind through the garland.

And what do you use to top a 35-foot Trap Tree? A 5-foot fiberglass lobster, that's what.

The tree even comes with a present for some lucky lobsterman. Raffle tickets are sold for $50 each, with the winner receiving 100 of the traps used to build the tree.

But to me, the most impressive thing about the tree is not its size. It's the fact that the Rockland organization chooses to build a tree to salute its lobstermen. I'll raise a glass of eggnog to the idea of celebrating our nation's fishing communities, and I hope you will, too.

While you're at it, watch the volunteers build this year's tree in the RCN America Network video below. And whether your tree is tall or small, have yourselves a merry little Christmas.

Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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Diversified Business Communications