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Derelict Lobster Traps Feel the Squeeze of MITA

You may remember hearing something about our “Flat Traps Fund” at some point last year. The idea was simple: generate funding to build a device that could be transported to sites on the Maine Island Trail to crush derelict lobster traps that washed ashore, making them easier to transport and dispose of. With a greater capacity to move these mangled pieces of fishing gear off the islands, MITA could be more efficient in our mission of keeping the Maine Island Trail healthy and clean. Of course, ideas are often the easiest part…

There were quite a few engineering considerations to take into account. This device needed to exceptionally strong and robust (have you ever seen a lobster trap? They’re pretty serious pieces of equipment…) It had to be light, because if needed to be transportable on an 18′ aluminum work boat. It needed to be durable, because it would be operating in the salty, rocky, sandy, foggy environment of coastal Maine. It needed to be easy to use, as we weren’t planning on hiring experienced heavy machinery operators just to run our trap compacting machine.

With all of those needs taken into consideration, the team at Cumberland Iron Works (based in Durham, Maine) was on the case. They had a good amount of input from various MITA community members who had informed opinions on engineering such things, and got to work in bringing our trap compactor to life.

Fast-forward to this past week, and we now have a trap compactor that works! Not on the list of needs was that the machine should be a lot of fun to use, but it turns out that it is. Who would have guessed?

Check out the photos below of MITA staff members engaging in a field test last week where we loaded, transported, and successfully utilized our new trap compactor on an island for the first time! It was super successful, and of course we couldn’t have done any of it without the help of our members who were able to contribute to the Flat Traps Fund. We are so happy to now have this tool that will have a real measurable impact on how we are able to take care of business on the Maine Island Trail. If you want to see it in action, check out mita.org/volunteer to see where we might be doing some trap removal that you can get involved in! Let’s just say there’s a pretty good chance that we’ll break this thing out for our four-day Outer Bar Trap Cleanup in mid June. We’d love for you to join us out there!

*Remember, you need special permission from Maine’s Department of Marine Resources to remove fishing gear from shorelines, even the stuff that’s destroyed. MITA receives this permission, so the easiest way to help out with the derelict gear issue just might be to volunteer with MITA!






P.S. yes, it has a name… which will be revealed in time 😉





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