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Interviewee: Pike Bartlett

Role: Founder-Friendship Trap Co.

Date of Interview: 10/6/03

Collection: Lobstering: A Friendship Tradition

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Abstract: Pike Bartlett was born 1951 and moved from Massachusetts to the town of Friendship, Maine in 1973. He is the president and owner of Friendship Trap Company, a company he started in 1977 just as the lobster-trap industry was transitioning from wooden to wire traps. Pike has two children, and when he is not making lobster traps he enjoys sailing, skiing and riding his motorcycle.

Transcript: “I have a company that makes lobster traps, and we start with rolls of wire and bails of mesh and cut it and bend it and make it into lobster traps. Well, I started the company called Friendship Trap Company in 1977, and when I first started I was in Massachusetts the first year, and then I built a building in Friendship and was up here in 1978. When I started there was already one other company in Maine that was making wire traps called [Marcrabs?] down in Freeport, and I did some research, some market research, to see if it was really going to be a better trap than wooden traps, and it looked like the days of the wooden traps were numbered. The wire traps were heavier underwater so they didn't move around and they were lighter on the boat, and they also required less maintenance, so all around it was a much better trap for fishermen than wooden traps. And because they didn't move around on the bottom, they caught more lobsters.

The business in a lot of ways has gotten a lot tougher because when we started we didn't have a lot of competition. We got in at the beginning of the wire trap business. It was, you know, a new industry and we were into it early and we, we probably did a pretty good job. Now, as in most industries, as time progressed it has become what we tend to call a mature industry where a lot of people in it, there's a lot more competition, and it's become a lot more price sensitive, people shop around a lot. And also, to compound that issue, is the trap limits and regulations have cut down the number of new traps being built by about, oh, a third to a half, so we not only have a mature business, but we have an industry that is, a business that has also gotten smaller because of regulations mostly.

Eight or ten years ago fishermen had four or five or six hundred traps, and then we started to have the government talking about regulating the number of traps that fishermen could have and they told them that they could only have eight hundred traps. Different places had different numbers. There may have been a few fishermen that had more than eight hundred traps, but most had less, and the effect of it was a lot of fishermen, once they were told they could only have eight hundred, even if they were only fishing six hundred, bought more and wanted to have eight hundred because they were told that's all they could have and they were worried that the government would restrict them to less than that if they didn't have the whole eight hundred. So now the trap limits, depending on what area of the lobster fishery that they're in, could be anywhere from I think six hundred to eight hundred.”

To read Pike's full transcript, click here.