We’ve got a new look—and a new doormat. You’re looking at the new Mauka to Makai layout right now*. Hopefully, you like it. Now, let’s talk about our doormat.
It’s a pretty cool doormat. It (kinda) protects North Atlantic right whales and (sorta) helps Maine lobstermen. What does your doormat do?
Our doormat is made of floating groundlines that lobstermen used to use to connect their lobster traps. Because they didn’t snag on the rocky ocean floor, these lines made lobstering easier and safer for lobsterman. That’s a good thing. But the floating lines made the ocean more dangerous for right whales because, well, right whales aren’t the brightest crayons in the box. They’re slow and not particularly adept at avoiding dangerous objects. They are, however, quite adept at getting run over by ships and getting themselves entangled in fishing gear.
To try to keep right whales out of trouble—and alive—the federal government mandated that lobstermen use sinking groundlines to connect their traps. Sinking groundlines make it harder for right whales to wrap themselves up in gear, but switching gear is a pain in the ass for lobstermen. It’s also expensive—it costs an average of $5,500 for a fulltime lobsterman to rig his gear with floating groundline and switching to sinking groundline increases that cost by almost 60%.
To help defray the costs of switching to sinking groundlines, the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation started the Bottom Line Project. The program allows lobstermen to exchange their floating groundlines for a voucher (worth $1.40/pound of floating line) to be used for the purchase of sinking groundline. By the middle of August 2009, 1,210 lobstermen had turned in 1,320,196 pounds of floating line.
Where do all those lines go? Into kick-ass whale-protecting, lobsterman-supporting doormats of course.
*unless you’re an email subscriber. If that’s the case, please make your way over to our website and let us know what you think.