Trap Fishing Market


To identify the trap fishing market size with a breakdown of how much money is spent on gear and lost gear for purposes of a marketing pitch.

Early Findings

Preliminary research indicates that a direct market size for trap fishing is not available. There are market sizes for individual trap fish species, such as crab, lobster, and shrimp. There is also data available for how much trap fishermen spend on traps (especially crab traps) and how much they lose each year; however, much of it must be triangulated.
  • In 2017, U.S. crab fishing brought in $610 million, lobster fishing brought in $594 million, and shrimp fishing brought in $531 million. These three types of seafood are caught using traps.
  • There is no indication that swordfish are caught by traps, as the NOAA states that the target species for net/trap/pot fishing are crabs, lobsters, whelk, scup, black sea bass, and eels.
  • The total market size for crab, lobster, and shrimp trap fishing is $1.734 billion ($610 million + $594 million + $531 million).
  • Trap fishermen lose anywhere from 10% to 30% of their pots and traps each year.
  • Coastal Studies estimates that between 5% and 15% of lobster gear is lost each year to "storm action, propellers, or interactions with mobile fishing gear."
  • The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found that "commercial fishers in the Chesapeake Bay lose around one in every three traps they set, adding up to around 150,000 crab traps every year — and that is just one bay."
  • Commercial crab fishing boats have between 150 and 300 pots on board, with larger boats of 100 feet or longer averaging 250 pots.
  • Standard size crab pots (7-by-7-by-3 foot) sell for $1,250 each.
  • Therefore, if a crab boat loses between 5% and 30% of their pots and traps each year, this means that each crab boat loses between eight (5% of 150) and 90 (30% of 300) pots annually.
  • A large boat of 100 feet or longer with an average of 250 crab pots on board will lose between 13 pots (250 x 5%) and 75 pots (250 x 30%) each year for an annual loss of between $16,250 (13 x $1,250) and $93,750 (75 x $1,250) per year.
  • At a cost of $1,250 each, this means large crab boats lose on average between $10,000 (8 x $1,250) and $112,500 (90 x $1,250) of gear each year.
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address your goals.

Proposed next steps:

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As the initial research indicates that a direct market size for trap fishing is not available, we recommend continuing the research started here and identifying the market size for each individual species that NOAA indicates are caught with traps or nets. Then, we can triangulate an estimated overall market size by adding these markets together.
In addition, we were able to find data on how many crab and lobster pots are lost each year and how much it costs to replace the crab pots, which allowed us to triangulate an approximate amount that trap fishermen lose (and consequently spend to replace) each year. We recommend diving deeper into the numbers for lobster pots, shrimp pots, nets, and other gear associated with the various species that are caught with traps. This will likely need to be triangulated as was done with crab pots here.
Finally, we also recommend research into the top players in the trap fishing industry according to either revenue or pounds of trap species pulled from waters each year.