Today, the lobster fishing starts

Today is the start of this year’s lobster fishing. Too many it is the greatest fairytale of the autumn. A fairytale that can quickly become a nightmare, if you do not remember to take safety on board seriously enough.

If you are going fishing in autumn, it is not only smart but vital to consider your own safety. With the temperature in the water being what it is, you won’t survive for many minutes lacking the correct equipment, and you should be prepared for what to do if you end up in the ocean. And – last, but not least – a plan for not ending up in the water in the first place.

– Proper equipment is naturally absolutely essential. A life jacket is a bare minimum.In addition, it is important to dress properly independently of meeting with an accident or not. Now, when temperatures are low in both the air and the water, a survival or work suit is preferable, says Lars Petter Helminsen. Helminsen is the skipper of the rescue boat «Stormbull» based in Stavern.

Ropes, stability and weather

In addition to heeding your own safety, it’s important to be focused. Many of the missions that Helminsen and the Norwegian Rescue Company’s other rescue vessels have to respond to during the lobster fishing season are linked to things like ropes and stability.

– It takes no time for a rope to be entangled in the propeller during placing and handling of the lobster traps, which can have serious consequences. Most lobster traps are placed just offshore, which means that the chance of hitting a headland due to a rope entangled in the propeller is large, Helminsen continues.

You should also – according to the Skipper – be aware that the boat can behave differently than it usually does, and to monitor wind and current closely.

– A tall stack of lobster traps affects the stability of your vessel. In addition, the space on board becomes marginal. This means that you need to be extra careful when moving it in the boat in connection with the pulling and placing of the lobster pots.

– You should never forget to check the weather forecast beforehand and plan the placing of the traps accordingly. At this time of year, conditions can change quickly and there is often a lot of wind, which can lead to troubled and dangerous seas near land. When people call and ask about weather and wave conditions, I always remind them that there is no shame in turning back. Take a trip, look at the conditions and make a quick assessment based on that. If you feel it is not safe out there – then return to port, Helminsen advises.

Lars Petter Helminsen’s 10 tips for safer lobster fishing

  1. Stay updated on weather and wind. Remember, it’s no shame to turn back if you feel insecure.
  2. Wear a life jacket and dress properly. In autumn and winter, a survival or work suit is preferable.
  3. Make sure there is not a lot of buoyant rope lying about in the vessel.
  4. Have a sharp knife available for cutting rope at all times.
  5. Always have a good anchor easily accessible in the vessel. This can be crucial to the outcome if a rope is entangled in the propeller.
  6. Think stability. A stack of lobster pots makes for poor stability and space on board is often cramped.
  7. Stay up to date with local currents.
  8. Keep a VHF radio or mobile phone in a waterproof cover.
  9. Do not place the lobster (or crab) pots in the middle of a ships lane. Be two in the boat, or inform someone about how long you plan to be away.
  10. A final tip to wrap it up: Use proper bait. Rotten mackerel is supposedly irresistible to the lobster.

If you consider lobster fishing, you need to know this

  • Currently, registration for lobster fishing is obligatory.
  • Those who register for lobster fishing will be assigned a unique ID.
  • The minimum length for lobster is 250 mm along the entire coast, all across Norway.
  • On the Skagerak coast – delimited in the west by a straight line from Lindesnes lighthouse to Hanstholm lighthouse (Denmark) and all the way to the border with Sweden – a maximum length, for legally fished lobster, of 320mm has been introduced.
  • To measure the correct length of a lobster (total length), measure the lobster from the tip of the head to the rear end of the middle joint of the tail.
  • All pots used to catch lobster must be marked with the name, address, and the participant ID.
  • Traps used to catch lobster must have at least two circular escape hatches – one on each side of the device. The openings must be at least 60 mm and should be located near the bottom of the pot so that undersize lobsters easily can escape. It is mandatory to use biodegradable cotton thread in lobster traps.
  • As a recreational fisherman, you can fish for lobster using up to 10 pots. This means that if several people fish from the same vessel (simultaneously), or if one person fishes using several vessels, he or she can not use more than 10 lobster traps in total.
  • Lobster pots must be inspected once a week at the very least.
  • It is allowed for recreational fishermen to place crab pots in shallower water than 25 metres.
  • It is prohibited to place or pull traps for catching lobster on the coastline from the Swedish border to West Agder in the period from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.
  • There is a reporting obligation for lobster stored in the ocean in December.
  • Leisure fishermen can not sell lobster freely. All sales of fish and seafood should be handled by a co-op or an approved buyer. Leisure fishermen can trade for a maximum of NOK 50,000 in a year.
  • There are 36 conservation areas for lobster in Norway. 10 in Hordaland, 16 in Sogn & Fjordane and 10 in Southern and Eastern Norway. In addition, there are five conservation zones in the municipality of Tvedestrand and Lindesnes.Maps of conservation areas can be found on the website of the Directorate of Fisheriesfiskeridir.no
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