Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

Lobster trap

Commercial Spiny Lobster Trap Fishery

Lobster trap fishing is important to Florida's cultural history and economy. Many traps are lost annually due to storms and boat propellers cutting the buoy rope that marks each trap, leading to ghost fishing and habitat damage.

An Overview of Trap Loss in Florida’s Spiny Lobster Trap Fishery

Loss of gear is common in all fisheries, and the Florida spiny lobster trap fishery is no exception.

Lobster Trap Debris in the Florida Keys

The majority of lobster trap fishing occurs in the Florida Keys where lobster is important to the cultural history and economy.

Retrieval of Lost Traps and Trap Debris

The FWC has two programs that are dedicated to removing lost and abandoned spiny lobster, stone crab and blue crab traps throughout Florida. Significant challenges remain for the prevention and removal of lost traps which accumulate faster than they are removed.

Ghost Fishing Lobster Traps

Ghost fishing is the term used for fishing gear that catches and kills animals after it is lost.

Habitat Damage by Lobster Traps

Lobster fisherman in the Florida Keys primarily use wooden slat lobster traps. Damage to habitat can occur when traps are used in coral habitat or sit too long in seagrass habitat. Traps also damage habitat when they are lost in seagrass and when storms move them into coral.

Impacts of Lobster Trap Fishing on Juvenile Lobsters

In the Florida spiny lobster trap fishery, fishermen bait their traps with live, sublegal-sized (less than three-inch carapace length) lobsters, also called shorts.

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View more photos and watch a video about lobster trap debris research in the Florida Keys.

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