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Lobster Patent
 

Multiple feeding chamber lobster trap with self closing bait well

Lobster abstract

A lobster trap having at least two feeding chambers separated from one another with no direct access from one feeding chamber to the other(s), each feeding chamber having a feeding head to the exterior of the trap and a centrally disposed bait well accessible to each feeding chamber, such lobster trap characterized by the lack of a parlor chamber.

Lobster claims

8. A lobster trap for the capture of lobsters, said lobster trap having an interior and exterior, comprising: at least two feeding chambers disposed within said interior of said trap, each of said feeding chambers separated from one another with no direct access from one feeding chamber to another of said feeding chambers; means in each of said feeding chambers for lobsters to enter each of said feeding chambers from outside of said trap; and a bait well centrally disposed within said trap having a height, a top, and a top edge, said bait well having an opening defined at its top for receipt of bait, said bait well accessible to each of said feeding chambers, said lobster trap characterized by a lack of a parlor chamber.

9. The lobster trap of claim 8 made of wire mesh material, further including: vertically disposed first, second, third and fourth sides each having the same height, a length, a top edge and a bottom edge, said first and third sides having the same length and said second and fourth sides having the same length, said bottom edges of said first, second, third and fourth sides when joined together forming the dimensions of a rectangle; a base having the same dimensions as said rectangle, said base attached to said bottom edges of said first, second, third and fourth sides; said top edges of said first, second, third and fourth sides forming a level being the height of said lobster trap; a cover hingeably attached to a top edge of one of said sides, said cover having the same dimensions as the dimensions of said rectangle, said cover adapted to open and close, said cover when closed, covering said opening at the top of said bait well and the top edges of said first, second, third and fourth sides of said trap; and said top edge of said bait well being disposed at the same height as the height of said sides of said trap.

10. The lobster trap of claim 8 wherein said centrally disposed bait well is formed in a V-shape of wire mesh material, said bait well separating said feeding chambers from one another, said V-shaped bait well having an opening defined therein at its top for receiving bait through said opening at its top.

11. The lobster trap of claim 8 wherein said centrally disposed bait well is formed in an envelope configuration, said bait well separating said feeding chambers from one another, said envelope having an opening defined at its top for receiving bait therein.

12. The lobster trap of claim 9 wherein said centrally disposed bait well is formed in a V-shape of wire mesh material, said bait well extending from said first side to said third side and from said base to said level of said top edges of said sides of said trap, said bait well separating said feeding chambers from one another, said V-shaped bait well having an opening defined therein at its top for receiving bait through said opening at its top.

13. The lobster trap of claim 9 wherein said centrally disposed bait well is formed in an envelope configuration, said bait well extending from said first side to said third side and from said base to said level of said top edges of said sides of said trap, said bait well separating said feeding chambers from one another, said envelope having an opening defined at its top for receiving bait therein.

14. The lobster trap of claim 9 further including: four vertically disposed internal partitions separating said trap into four feeding chambers, each feeding chamber having a separate feeding head open to the exterior of said trap to allow for the entrance of lobsters into each, said internal partitions forming said central bait well having access to each of said feeding chambers, said opening at the top of said bait well being disposed at the same level as the height of said top edges of said sides of said trap, said feeding chambers having a lack of direct access from one feeding chamber to another within said trap.

15. The lobster trap of claim 14 further including: vertically disposed first, second, third and fourth wire mesh members, said first wire mesh member attached to said third and fourth partitions to form said first feeding chamber, said second wire mesh member attached to said second and fourth partitions to form said fourth feeding chamber, said third wire mesh member attached to said first and second partitions to form said third feeding chamber, said fourth wire mesh member attached to said third and first partitions to form said second feeding chamber, said interconnections of said first, second, third and fourth wire mesh members to said first, second, third and fourth partitions forming said centrally disposed bait well for receipt of bait therein.

Lobster description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] Application does not claim the benefit of one or more prior applications. Reference is made to prior applications herein to show state of the prior art only.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] Not applicable

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING COMPACT DISK APPENDIX

[0003] Not applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0004] Lobster fishing methods and traps have not substantially changed for more than 300 years. Traps used in colonial times are immediately identifiable and are created to the same basic configuration as a modern trap. The only major changes have been in the shape of the trap (half-barrel shaped or rectangular) and in the change from wooden lathes to wire mesh. This invention relates to new and novel improvements in an age-old art.

[0005] Lobster fisheries have continually increased catches for decades without a diminution of, or damage to, the breeding stock of the species. The reason behind this fact puzzled scientists until recently. Advances in optics and waterproofing have led to the scientific study of lobsters in their native habitat. `Lobster Cams` are easily found on the Internet recording the actions of lobsters in and around pots twenty-four hours a day. Such devices and studies have led to a better understanding of the lobsters feeding patterns and activity patterns during both day and night.

[0006] Existing pots were built on the assumption that most lobsters would enter the pot at night to feed and be unable to divine a way to exit before the pot is hauled the following day. Modern studies, however, show that 96+% of all lobsters which enter a trap, do so during the day, eat and leave. The only lobster caught in the trap is the one unlucky enough to be eating when the pot is pulled. Studies also show that lobsters will not enter a pot if a larger lobster is present in the feeding chamber, and will actually dig nests or `dugouts` under a pot to wait their turn to feed.

[0007] Current pots are equipped with only one feeding chamber and waste one half to two thirds of the room in the pot on nets designed to make it difficult for lobsters to exit. Unfortunately the lobsters seem to have learned the way out. Lobsters have no difficulty navigating 2 and even three chamber traps. Current pots additionally require the bait to be placed in a bait bag and tied to the sleeper chamber. If placed loose in the pot bait is easily removed by the lobster. Current `traps` are actually feeding stations for lobsters. Given the free and easily obtained supply of food it is little wonder that the breeding stocks are continuing to increase.

[0008] My system for trapping the lobster utilizes the current information known about the lobster, maximizes the feeding chambers available for occupation and reduces the work of the lobsterman by eliminating the need to fill and attach new bait bags to a pot and to remove used bait bags for refill.

[0009] The invention addresses issues discovered and reported in the following articles or web sites:

[0010] a Lobsters on a Roll, Colin Woodard, The Christian Science Monitor, January 9 2003

[0011] b Great Lobster Escapes Caught on Camera, CBC News Online Feb. 27 2003. http://cbc.ca/stories/2003/01/10/lobsters030110

[0012] c Lobster Logic [They're smarter than you think] The Boston Globe Jan. 24 2003 Editorial page

[0013] d http://www.thelobstercam.com/Lobster Institute, University of Maine, Orono

[0014] e http://www.nature.com/nsu/020211/020211-1.html, Nature Science Update, a division of Nature Magazine

EXPLANATION OF TERMS

[0015] Certain terms are used to explain the background of the art and the invention; and, for convenience and completeness sake, these terms are summarized in this section. Such terms include the following

[0016] a. Lobster Trap

[0017] A semicircular or rectangular shaped wooden or plastic coated wire mesh--box placed on the ocean floor and tethered to a buoy for location and retrieval. The industry uses the term lobster pot interchangeably with lobster trap. For purposes of describing this invention, the term lobster pot, or simply, pot, will be used hereafter.

[0018] b. Entry, Parlor, Sleeper, Kitchen and Feeding Chamber

[0019] The existing pot configurations divide the pot into two types of compartments. An entry where the crustacean enters the trap, which is called variously entry, parlor or kitchen, depending on the locale. Parlor will be used for purposes of naming this compartment herein. The second type of compartment within an existing lobster pot design is the area where the lobster has access to the bait, which area is only accessible from the first compartment. This compartment is confusingly also called the parlor, sleeper or kitchen depending on the locale the pot is being used in. For the purposes hereof Sleeper shall be used to describe this second compartment which lacks direct access to the ocean and contains the bait bag in a standard pot. No sleeper or parlor is provided in the invention, rather one or more Feeding Chambers with direct access to the exterior of the pot are provided. The term feeding chamber shall be used to describe this area of the invention.

[0020] c. Heads

[0021] Standard lobster pots are configured with two entrance funnels referred to as fishing heads. In a standard trap these two funnels normally allow lobster entry into the parlor, and are formed by cord netting that tapers inwardly toward the interior of the trap. Heads are generally located on either side of the parlor. The heads may or may not be equipped with one-way gates. In the invention one head opens directly into each feeding chamber of the pot rather than into the Parlor chamber. No entry is provided from one feeding chamber to the other.

[0022] d. Hog Rings

[0023] A semicircular malleable, steel or aluminum, metal wire ring often used in the upholstery industry. The rings are close-able by compression with a specially designed pair of pliers. Such rings of various types are standard in the lobster fishing industry for fasteners of various trap hinges and on other trap locations. In my invention the interior feeding envelope or "V" feeder and interior partitions may be fastened to the trap by such hog rings or by any other suitable clips or bands.

[0024] e. Baiting

[0025] Existing traps require the use of string mesh bait bags into which the bait must be pre-loaded with great effort and mess. After a trap is hauled the used bait bag with rotted fish is removed from the trap, saved for reuse and a new bait bag is tied onto the trap in the Sleeper chamber. In my invention a central bait well or station made of wire mesh, accessible to lobsters from all feeding chambers of the trap replaces the bait bag. The bait well or station is accessed and refilled when the cover of the trap is removed to check the catch without the need of additional bags or actions to secure the bait. Remaining rotted bait is drawn to the bottom of the bait well by gravity and remains as an attractant for lobsters and results in the conservation of resources for the lobsterman. It is an object of the invention to create multiple chambers in a lobster trap at which a lobster can feed without contact with other lobsters in the same trap. It is an object of the invention to eliminate the use of bait bags by creating a fixed interior feeding station. It is an object of the invention to make access to the feeding station automatic upon opening of the trap cover or hatch. It is an object of the invention to make access to the feeding chambers automatic with the opening of the cover or hatch which is directly over the feeding station. It is an object to provide a central feeding station. It is an object to provide a central divider which will separate pots into two or more sections. It is an object to provide a divider which will prevent lobsters in one chamber from accessing the other. It is an object to provide an entry system to each chamber which does not allow access to any other chamber of the pot.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0026] The present invention relates to marine traps and lobster fisheries. More particularly the field of the marine trap invention constitutes a substantial non-obvious modification of the industry standard coated wire lobster fishing trap.

[0027] The invention provides for a trap which utilizes current scientific studies on the abilities and habits of lobsters and minimizes the time and effort needed for the lobsterman to check and re-bait the trap and maximizes the potential for the trapping of one or more lobsters in the trap when hauled. The trap provides for two or more feeding chambers, each individually accessible from outside of the trap, with no way for lobsters which enter a trap to move from one chamber to another. Each feeding chamber has access to a bait well which is opened for access at the same time the lid or hatch for the pot is opened and closed when the lid or hatch is closed with out other action being necessary.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0028] FIG. 1 is a view of a wire mesh, rectangular trap with the central bait well or station of this invention, and the single feeding heads composed of fixed openings with funnel shaped nets each leading into the separate feeding chambers of this invention. The trap is otherwise shown with standard runners, weights and cover closure strap currently in use in the industry.

[0029] FIG. 2 is a perspective similar to FIG. 1 showing a "V" shaped bait well or station with the single feeding heads composed of fixed openings with funnel shaped nets which each lead into the separate feeding chambers of this invention. FIG. 2 shows the relationship of the upper edge of the bait well with the top edge of the trap and the bottom edge of the hinged cover, by which the bait well is sealed when the cover is closed.

[0030] FIG. 3 is a view of an envelope style bait well made of wire mesh material.

[0031] FIG. 4 is a view of the "V" style bait well made of wire mesh material.

[0032] FIG. 5 is a perspective of the opening of a four--feeding--chamber trap with unitary wire mesh bait well. Fishing heads opening in each chamber are omitted for clarity.

[0033] The following details are noted in each drawing and uniform numbers are used in each to show the same:

[0034] # Description of Item Detailed

[0035] 1. Standard wire mesh forming exterior sides and bottom of trap. Exterior sides and bottom are assembled through the use of Hog Rings where necessary.

[0036] 2. Wire mesh forming hinged cover of trap, by which interior trap is accessed. Cover is attached by the use of Hog Rings or similar attachment devices.

[0037] 3. Closure device (loop) used to fasten trap cover.

[0038] 4. Feeding head composed of a fixed opening in the exterior of the trap with funnel shaped netting attached, leading into the separate feeding chamber(s) of this invention.

[0039] 5. Weight and retaining cage used to ensure the trap sits on the bottom in an upright position

[0040] 6. Standard runners attached to the base of trap.

[0041] 7. Unitary bait well or station formed of wire mesh which wire mesh structure also forms the interior partition of the trap. Bait well is assembled with the use of Hog Rings. Bait well is attached to exterior walls of trap, through use of Hog Rings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0042] The invention is formed by creating a box of wire mesh or other material. One section of the box being hinged and forms the cover. Two or more openings are made in the sides of the box and standard mesh funnel attachments are affixed to the openings in standard fashion. In the interior of the box partitions are created by using wire mesh or other suitable material which are each affixed to at least one wall and bottom of the box and which are attached and fitted together in the center of the box in such a way as to form a well for the insertion of bait which is closed at the bottom and open at the top. Said well is affixed to the bottom and at least two sides. Each fishing head made of the aforesaid mesh has exclusive access to one feeding chamber of the trap. Each feeding chamber has separate and distinct access to the central bait well. The top of the well is flush with the level of the top of the box. The top side of the box, or cover, is hinged in such a fashion that it lays flat across the top of the bait well when closed, preventing any bait placed therein from being removed. Said cover also seals the feeding chambers of the pot and assists in preventing the escape of lobsters. The cover is locked in position by means of a standard elastic loop or strap.


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