The lobster resource is a state and federally managed species. Since approximately 80% of the lobsters are caught in state waters and only 20% in federal waters, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) relinquished primary responsibility for lobster management, to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) on December 6, 1999 by changing the regulatory authority from the Magnuson-Stevens Act to the Atlantic States Fisheries Cooperative Management Act.
Lobster regulations are enforced through an area management process, and the lobster resource is divided into seven Lobster Conservation Management Areas which determine the regulations that must be followed when fishing in each particular area. Lobstermen fishing in multiple management areas must adhere to the most restrictive rules of all areas fished. Offshore lobster boats fish in Lobster Conservation Management Area 3, approximately 3 to 200 miles offshore, extending from Maine through North Carolina. Much of the fishery concentrates in the Northeast, specifically on Georges Bank and in the ledges off the continental shelf. Offshore operations differ from inshore fishing in that vessels are larger, typically 50 - 100 feet long and maintain a larger crew of 4 to 5 fishermen. An offshore fishing trip usually lasts 4-10 days.
Lobster regulations may be viewed on the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission web site at www.asmfc.org/species/american-lobster