|A picking box full of lobsters.
I read in The Huffington Post several days ago that two lobster boats have been sunk in Friendship, Maine. As the article states:
“Investigators don’t know if the attacks were the result of a personal vendetta or a territorial feud. At the least, they’ve brought unwanted
attention to this fishing community 75 miles northeast of Portland.”
Could this be the start of another a lobster trap war in Friendship Maine?
Of the various lobster fishing subjects I have written about in my new book, How To Catch A Lobster In Down East Maine, trap wars and the various unwritten rules of lobster fishing will likely be among the most interesting for readers. The cultural dynamics of small-town fishing communities along the coast of Maine are fascinating. The concept that local resources, including jobs, land and fishing grounds, should
be reserved for local people is deeply rooted in the community mindset. People “from away” who encroach on local fishing territories are seen to be taking resources away from that community. Lobster fishermen usually defend their fishing turf by means of vigilantism. Sometimes they even resort to violence.
The term ‘trap wars’ or ‘territory wars’ is often used to describe the methods lobster fishermen use to defend their fishing ground. These methods can range from cloak-and-dagger molestations of other fishermen’s gear to ramming boats and brandishing firearms. The Huffington Post article makes reference to the summer of 2009, when trap wars were especially extreme and violent in nature. In various fishing communities along the Maine coast that summer, traps were cut and boats were sunk. On the remote island of Matinicus, one fisherman even shot another in the neck in the midst of a heated trap war (A jury later found the assailant not guilty of elevated aggravated assault).
Though stories like the above make for good reading, violence is usually a small part of the daily lives of Maine lobster fishermen. Even Matinicus, which has garnered a bit of a reputation for outlaw behavior, is largely just an island of hardworking fishermen with the strength of spirit to survive an isolated way of living.
To read more about Maine’s lobster trap wars, click here.