Get into my own lobster business from scratch- Lobstermen, would you do it now knowing what you know?

Old Mud

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Advice from a ME guy who grew up on the stern of lobster boats, went through the apprecticeship,etc. You can fish a federal permit outside state waters but you can not land lobsters in the state of Maine without a landing permit i.e state lobster license. You can buy a federal permit and fish outside the state waters but you would have to land in NH or MA and have a license to land in those states...

You should do what I did, go work on a Little Bay/Shafmaster boat for a little while, that'll cure ya!
 

1rider

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You should do what I did, go work on a Little Bay/Shafmaster boat for a little while, that'll cure ya!

This, coupled with the other suggestions of working on a boat in Alaska and along with some of the other challenges that have been highlighted has effectively cured me of this desire!

In all seriousness, I knew there was a lot to entering into something like this and was hoping for some detailed insight to it. You all have provided that, thank you.

Maybe I’ll just dig clams.:p
 

leaky

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In NH, for someone that wants to play around, I believe you can get a "part time" commercial lobster license - 100 traps, even as a non resident, believe it is 100% open entry.

NH also has a 600 & 1200 trap license that are somehow controlled/limited entry - don't know the details.

If you do not actually need a business plan that includes all the sudden making a living and this is more of a retirement gig, it would not be all that outrageous to try your hand, but it's not such a profitable thing like Maine. On the other hand, if you are going to own a boat anyway, such would give you some exposure.

Good working traps can often be bought off commercial lobsterman for a fraction of the new cost - not quite sure why they sell them this way, bought some really nice stuff in the past w/ buoys line and everything from folks still in the business, might just be their way of cycling old gear out before it's worthless. I would not try to start with 100 new traps, being new, stupid, and/or pissing people off you are going to lose a bunch inevitably.. Keep track of who is in the area and where their gear is, if a whole string disappears and someone else's buoy's show up, that gives you a good indication of who to take your frustration out on ;).. isn't bad to mark you gear secretly either.
 

Snake8

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Most of what you need to know has been covered. Since you are in Gloucester, I will add that you have to qualify for a MA permit. One full year as a sternman or two part time seasons and/or equivalent experience in other commercial fisheries. There is a MA permit for sale with little to no equipment right now on Craigslist for 20k, so thats roughly the going price. Hard to find one without a shitty boat and equipment that will require you to keep your tetanus shots up to date, harder still to find one with a decent boat and decent equipment, and if you do find that leprechaun it will run you over 100k.

As for fishing Gloucester, it can be done but Gloucester is a competitive harbor with a lot of guys who have been doing it a long time. I fish just south of there, and everytime I am in those waters I pay attention to how the trawls are set. If you dont have this info you will likely get cut and dropped. You will likely get cut and dropped anyway for being a new guy. I would advise going stern with a local before buying into it, that will help you gain knowledge and get to know some locals. 90% of the guys are good guys. Like anything else 10% are pieces of shit who wont think twice about dropping your $1000 trawl because you are in "their" spot.

Another word of caution, right now Lobster in MA is under threat from the right Whale folks, there could be some hard changes coming to the fishery. It is also a one shot fishery, if lobstering declines due to either regulations or catch, there are no other fisheries to turn to. So if you do decide to get into make sure you have a backup plan. And to be honest most guys have another job or gig whether its plowing snow, building/contracting, bartending etc.,

Having said all that, its the best job I have ever had, probably making the least of any job Ive had. I have fished my whole life but came to lobstering a little late and my only regret is that I didnt start when I was younger. As always on this forum, feel free to reach out with any specific questions if I can be of any help.
 

Snake8

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Good working traps can often be bought off commercial lobsterman for a fraction of the new cost - not quite sure why they sell them this way, bought some really nice stuff in the past w/ buoys line and everything from folks still in the business, might just be their way of cycling old gear out before it's worthless. I would not try to start with 100 new traps, being new, stupid, and/or pissing people off you are going to lose a bunch inevitably.. Keep track of who is in the area and where their gear is, if a whole string disappears and someone else's buoy's show up, that gives you a good indication of who to take your frustration out on ;).. isn't bad to mark you gear secretly either.
Most guys that fish 800 will buy 100 new every year and cycle out the oldest/worst traps. My best traps Ive ever had I bought used. They are getting beat up but they still outfish my other traps almost 2/1. I even made some clones and they dont fish the same.

Dont assume the guy who came in is the guy who cut you. And I cant say this strongly enough, cutting someones gear is stealing, it is never justified. If you have a problem with someone and how they fish be a man and have words with them at the dock. Cutting is for cowards and criminals.
 

PatriciaLynn

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Depending on your accountant, traps may be considered a depreciable capital expense. If that is the case, you can cycle through new, nice gear every year once you have some cash flow. People are always looking for used traps, nothing to it.

Aquaculture is a viable option. I have a small farm in Freeport, ME, we do pretty well with it. Shipped 800 oysters yesterday, 400 today. Delivering 400 tomorrow. Gonna be a pretty nice little week! Scallops and kelp are viable as well. Don't need a big offshore boat to do it, just a 25-30ft work boat, some gear and some work ethic.
 
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Diesel Jerry

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PatriciaLynn

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Just like anything else, everyone has a different level of comfort with writing off expenses. Some people want to ride the razors edge, some people never want the IRS to look twice. I try to be reasonable but definitely take advantage of writing off gear purchases. It is a capital expenditure, no matter how you slice it.

Guys don't get $1M boats and brand new trucks and gear every year because it yields the highest return, they do it because it shields revenue from taxation. If spending money on boats and gear is important to you and you have the cash flow for it, then write em off!
 
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