Trap Fishing Market

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Trap Fishing Market Size

The estimated market size of trap fishing in the US was approximately US$1.786 billion in 2017.


  • Based on the research calculation, as per data available in the public domain, the estimated market size of trap fishing in the US was US$1,785,964,435 in 2017.
  • A report by the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association (NOAA) showed that target species for net/trap/pot fishing in the United States include crabs, lobsters, scup, shrimp, whelk, black sea bass, and eels. According to NOAA's report, these types of seafood are caught using traps.
  • Another report by NOAA revealed that in 2017, U.S. crab fishing brought in US$610 million, lobster fishing brought in US$594 million, and shrimp fishing brought in US$531 million.
  • In 2017, commercial landing for black sea bass fishes reached 3.99 million pounds, which amounted to US$12.24 million at US$3.07/pound, as per the most recent black sea fishery document in the US.
  • As of 2018, commercial fishing for eels reached US$21.7 million in Maine, USA, according to a report by WGME. This report also observed that in the United States, fishing eels only occurred in two places, including Maine and North Carolina.
  • In 2017, the commercial landing for eels was US$14,413 in North Carolina, according to the region's official commercial fishery statistics.
  • A report by the Massachusetts government directory observed that the whelk species "range along the east coast from southern Massachusetts to Florida." According to the report, this species of trap fishing generates about $5 million annually.
  • The commercial landing for scup fishery in 2017 was 28.35 million pounds, with the most recent value for each pound reported by the NOAA at $0.6/pound. We used this information to calculate the value of scup fishing in 2017 at (28.35 million pounds*$0.6) $17.01 million.


We began by researching relevant market and industry reports, hoping to identify those specific to trap fishing in the US. For this, we investigated directories like PR Newswire, Technavio, BusinessWire, Markets & Markets, and others. Unfortunately, there was no report in the public domain with insights specific to the market size of trap fishing in the US. However, we located a report by IBISWorld that may have the needed information, but data in this report was behind a pay-wall.

Due to the lack of publicly available info on the market size of the entire trap fishing segment in the US, we switched strategies to investigate the various species the category and the revenue each contributed. We located a report by the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association (NOAA), showing that trap fishing in the US includes species such as crab, lobster, shrimp, whelk, scup, black sea bass, and eels. Therefore, we proceeded to investigate each species in search of their most recent revenue information. Again, we found a report by NOAA that revealed the 2017 revenues contributed by shrimp, lobsters, and crab fishing in the US. Also, we located a 2018 "Black Sea Bass Fishery Information Document" in the United States, observing that the black sea bass species generated US$12.24 million. Another report by in 2019 noted that whelk fishing reaches US$5 million per year.

However, there was no direct report which revealed revenues generated by scup and eels in the US. Instead, we found a study by NOAA in 2018, which showed that 28.35 million pounds of commercial scup fishes were landed in 2017; this report also noted that the most recent value for the scup fish species in the US was US$0.6/pound. Hence, we used this information to calculate the value of scup fishes landed in 2017. A report by WGME in 2019 stated that sales from eels had exceeded US$20 million for two consecutive years. Unfortunately, this report did not reveal the exact amount generated by eels in 2017; instead, it observed that Maine produced around $21.7 million worth of eels in 2018. Also, this report noted that eel fishing took place in only two locations in the US, which included Maine and North Carolina. Hence, we researched revenue from eels in North Carolina and found that it was US$$14,413 from a study by North Carolina's commercial fishery statistics. Based on WGME's report in 2019 that sales from eels reached U$20 million in the past two years, we took the report's revenue of $21.7 million in 2018 as a proxy for the 2017 revenues, since there was no data specific to 2017. Then, we added this to the amount generated in 2017 from eels in North Carolina.


Finally, we added the sales from each trap fishing species above to arrive at the market size estimate for trap fishing in the US in 2017 [US$610 million+US$594 million+$531 million+US$12.24 million+US$5 million+US$21,714,430+US$17.01 million] = US$1,785,964,435, or US$1.786 billion.
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Trap Fishing - Lost Gear

In the U.S. trap fishermen in a single boat lose between $20,775 and $124,650 worth of gear each year.

Overview of Trap Fishing

  • Traps and pots are submerged wire or wooden boxes used to catch different types of fish species.
  • In addition to traps and pots, nets are also used.
  • Lobsters and crabs are the main types of species caught using traps. However, other species such as whelk, scup, black sea bass, and eels can also be caught.
  • According to FAO, shrimps are also caught using pots.
  • Although there is no single market for lobsters, shrimps, and crabs combined, each of them has its own market segment.
  • According to NOAA, in 2017, crabs generated $610 million in revenue while lobsters and shrimp brought in $594 million and $531 million respectively.
  • Therefore, the total market size for the three is $1,735 billion ($610m+$594m+$531).
  • Unfortunately, despite the attractiveness of the total market size, fishermen encounter a lot of losses as a result of lost fishing gear.
  • The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service estimates that in a fishing season, 12 miles of nets are lost every day
  • It is estimated that 5-15% of lobster gear is lost every year because of storms among other events.
  • Moreover, FAO found out that commercial fishers in the Chesapeake Bay lose around one in every three traps they set, totaling up to around 150,000 lost crab traps each year.
  • In general, it is estimated that fishermen lose between 10%-30% of their pots/traps each year.
  • In commercial fishing, it is estimated that the crew will have between 150 to 300 traps/pots in a boat.
  • The average price for a king-size crab pot from an Arlington company is $1,250.
  • However, on Amazon, the price for Promar Collapsible Shrimp Pot, 32-Inch is roughly $107.
  • Nevertheless, even if there are some traps or pots sold cheaply out there, there are laws that regulate trap fishing such as lobster pots must have a permit from the relevant authority and this increases the "price" of the pot.
  • The permit or rather licensing tag for trap fishing can cost between $1,153 to $1,538.
  • Therefore, even if the trap cost $107 and it must have a permit then its cost would rise to between $1,260 ($1,153+$107) and $1,645 ($1,538+$107) which is more than the cost of a king-size crab pot from an Arlington company which is $1,250.

Losses in Trap Fishing

  • If fishermen, in general, lose between 10%-30% of their trap pots each year and a boat carries between 150 to 300 pots on board then that will mean that between 15 (10% of 150) and 90 (30% of 300) pots are lost each year.
  • The prices for a pot range between $1,250 and between $1,260-$1,645. Therefore, the average price is (1,250+1,260+1,645)/3 = $1,385.
  • Therefore, the loss in trap fishing in the US is between $20,775 (15*1,385) and $124,650 (90*1385) worth of gear per year.

Research Strategy:

While we could not obtain any precompiled data that could help us determine the loses experienced in trap fishing, we were able to compute a triangulation based on the quantitative data that we were able to obtain from various sources.
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Trap Fishing - Top Players

According to our research, most of the trap setters or fishing vessels for trap fishing consist of small size individual crew members and do not operate as a company.

Fishing Vessels (F/V) for King Crabs

King Crab Trap Fishing — Statistics

  • Average gross revenue per boat: $868,000
  • Average seasonal quota: 15.5 million pounds of king crab
  • Number of boats: 125
  • Average pounds per boat quota: 124,000 pounds
  • Boat owner payout (50% of gross): $434,000 to apply toward expenses and income

Crab Boat Fishing Captain Earnings

  • Captain Scott Campbell, Jr. earned $30,000 at the age of 18 as a greenhorn crew member for a crab fishing season that lasted three months. Now that he owns his boat, he makes over $200,000 per year after expenses such as fuel, bait, food, insurance, and maintenance.

Trap Setter

  • These vessels are used for setting pots or traps for catching fish, lobsters, crabs, crayfish, and other similar species.

Fishing Vessel Types (Trap Setter)

  • Trap setters range from open boats operating inshore to larger decked vessels of 20-50 m operating in the edge of a continental shelf.
  • On small decked trap setters, the wheelhouse is located either forward or aft and the fish hold amidships. On larger vessels, the wheelhouse is usually located forward.
  • Trap setter fishing vessel equipment is a Fish Detection Equipment to search fish and fishing gears like traps, pots, and deck equipment. Larger trap setters are equipped with derricks, cranes or davits for hauling pots onboard. On smaller vessels, hydraulic or mechanical pot haulers are fitted.


We began our research by looking for precompiled data on the top five players in the US trap fishing industry. We examined US government websites and databases such as Food and Agriculture Organization fisheries, and aquaculture department, National Marine Fisheries Service (NOOA), Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and others. However, what we found here are some industry overview of fishing traps used, types of target species, types of vessels used in trap fishing industries, and other extraneous information.

Subsequently, we checked market reports of the US and global trap fishing industry because the reports typically include key players of the industry by region. However, after checking several industry reports/analysis websites such as IBISWorld, PRNewswire, MarketWatch, GrandViewResearch, and several others, we were not able to find anything significant.

We determined that trap fishing is performed by the means of fishing vessels or trap setter vessels that primarily target species like crabs, lobsters, crayfish, and other similar species which are considered to be 'trap fish species', according to NOAA. Some of the fleets cited by certain publications are St. Thomas/St. John fleet in the Virgin Islands but they don't have websites. We found some fishing fleets that hunt king crabs in Alaska, however, there was no information on their revenue or how king crabs are caught annually. The available data was the crew members' profile, target species, and their products. Also, some FV for lobsters and other species like whelk, black sea bass, and eels have no websites to identify their 'caught' annually, revenue, and other similar metrics. What we found here are some statistical data of earnings per boat of king crab trap fisher, list of fishing fleets designed for king crabs, earnings of a captain for trap fisherman boat/vessel.

Following this, we scanned business listings and databases like LinkedIn, Crunchbase, Hoovers, etc. to find companies that are in the trap fishing industry. However, what we found here are some suppliers of fish traps, pots, and equipment for crabs, lobsters, whelk, eels, and others.

Lastly, we checked the US crap trap suppliers' website to find their clients/customers. We did this to find the companies that are in the trap fishing industry. Nevertheless, none of the companies we scanned has publicly available customers/clients and most of them have no websites.

Based on our findings, most of the trap setters or fishing vessels for trap fishing consist of small size individual crew members and do not operate as a company. Therefore, we assumed this may be the reason they don't have official websites to published their revenue and/or caught annually which limits us to provide a list of the top players in trap fishing industry in the US.

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From Part 01
  • "Overall, the highest value U.S. commercial species were salmon ($688 million), crabs ($610 million), lobsters ($594 million), shrimp ($531 million), scallops ($512 million), and Alaska pollock ($413 million). "
  • "In 2014, commercial fishermen from Maine through North Carolina landed 15.93 million pounds of scup, valued at $9.54 million (an average of $0.60/pound). "
  • "In 2014, commercial fishermen from Maine through North Carolina landed about 2.38 million pounds of black sea bass, valued at $7.70 million (an average of $3.24/pound). "
  • "For two consecutive years, Maine baby eel fishermen have netted more than $20 million statewide and earned an average price of more than $2,000 per pound."
  • "Maine is only one of two states that allow elver fishing and the other one, South Carolina, has a fishery much smaller than Maine’s."
  • "Last year, when Maine had $21.7 million worth of landings and an average price of $2,366, was the first time the value of the statewide catch exceeded $20 million and elver fishermen were paid on average more than $2,000 per pound."
  • "In 2017, 3.99 million pounds of black sea bass were landed in the commercial fishery, generating $12.24 million in revenues at an average price of $3.07 per pound (Figure 5). Landings and ex-vessel value increased from 2016, while the price per pound decreased from 2016"
  • "At least 100,000 pounds of black sea bass were landed in each of nine ports in seven states from Maine through North Carolina in 2017. These nine ports accounted for approximately 65% of all commercial black sea bass landings in 2017"
  • "This is likely a result of reduced abundance, as well as conservation measures implemented to enhance the spawning stock biomass. High ex-vessel values has buoyed the fishery at a value of around $5 million per year."