American Lobster banner


Glossary of Terms

Terminology varies from region to region.  These are some of the terms used in the Northumberland Strait region of the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Some of the terms have been taken from the Buyer’s Guide for Canadian Atlantic Lobster, distributed by the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture

spawning female lobster

Berried female - also called a spawning female, a female carrying eggs

Bug - slang for lobster


Buoy -  (pronounced bü-ē) a rounded cork shaped object that is usually made of styrofoam that can float. Buoys are tied with rope to traps to mark where they are in the water.  Each fisherman has a particular colour scheme for their buoys so that they can distinguish whose is whose.

Brine - salt water

Canners - small lobsters, weighing 175 to 450 kg (approximately ½ to 1lb)                              

Carapace - hard shell covering the lobster’s cephalothorax

Cephalothorax - the fused segments of the head and thorax

Cull - a lobster with one or no claws.  Normally sold at a lower price

Districts - regions in Atlantic Canada where lobster fishing is open at specific times of the year (seasons). The division into districts allows control of the harvest, insuring the highest quality.

Deck-hand - also called a fishermen’s helper or hired hand.  A person responsible for emptying traps, baiting, stacking and dropping traps and cleaning up. Basically a person who does everything but pilot the boat and haul the traps.

deck hand

Gaff - a long, straight, wooden pole with a hook on the end that is used to catch buoys.

Hard shell - a lobster whose shell has fully hardened after molting.  Hard-shelled lobsters yield 50-60 % more meat than soft-shelled or shedders.  


Hauler - an electronic device that is located at the stern of the boat and hauls traps out of the water.

LFA - lobster fishing area

Live-tank - a box-like structure where the live lobsters are placed on board.  Usually located in the middle of the deck. Ocean water is pumped in to the tank.

Markets - a size category for lobsters weighing 450kg to 1.5 kg (1 to 3 lbs).

metal gauge

Metal gauge - a device used to measure the carapace of a lobster. It is placed at the eye socket and measures down the middle.  If the carapace of the lobster does not fit between the jaws of the device then the lobster is not of legal size.

Molt - when a lobster sheds its shell so that it can grow larger

Pound - a storage area for holding live lobster

Roe - unfertilized egg mass of a female. It is bright red when cooked.

Seasons - specific periods in the year when a particular area or region can be fished

Shedders - lobster in the molt or soft-shell stage of growth

Tomalley - green-cloured liver of a lobster

wire cage trap       wooden trap

Trap - a wooden or wire cage that is baited and used to catch lobster.

Trawl - a string of traps connected by a line with two buoys marking each end.  Traps are tied along the line.  Three, five, seven and ten-trap trawls are common in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. 


Tray - also called a ‘tote’, a plastic bin that holds bait, lobster, or anything on the boat that needs stowing.

V-notch - a small v shape cut in the second left flipper to mark breeding females.  V-notched females, if found, must be thrown back; regardless of whether they are carrying eggs at the time or not.

Washboard - the rail of the boat where the traps are laid after being hauled.

Wharf - the docks where the boats are moored. 


Home     Site Map     Glossary    Search