This documentary follows three trap fishing crews through their summer's work. The Rhode Island floating trap is unique in New England fisheries, with sites going back over a hundred and fifty years. Like weirs used elsewhere along the New England coast, floating traps are passive fishing devices. Fish, swimming along the coast, run into a fence of netting blocking their path. When they turn to go around the obstruction, they are led by a series of funnels into a box of netting where they are trapped until fishermen come to collect them on a daily basis. Such traps, once covering the Rhode Island coastline, were long ago outdated with the advent of the modern fishing trawler. Today, just a few trap companies still operate. This film attempts to capture the fishery and its associated culture before it vanishes completely.
The vessels in the film are the Maria Mendonsa, the Amelia Bucolo, and the North Star. The first vessel fishes out of Sakonnet Point, RI, while the other two dock in Point Judith, RI. The floating fish trap appears to be a Rhode Island twist on the more commonly built weirs used along the New England coast. The weir is a trap built using pilings driven into the ocean bottom, limiting the depth of water in which they can be placed and making them susceptible to ocean storms. Floating traps, however, are held in shape by a series of buoys, lines, and anchors, allowing them to be located on the open ocean. Because the traps reliy on fish coming to them, they were eventually replaced by trawlers, which could chase fish wherever they went, leaving only a few companies still employing this ancient technology. Trap fishing is a very green fishery: they are located near land rather than far offshore and fish that are not kept are returned to the ocean alive. Traps also produce a high quality product as the fish are simply scooped from the ocean without damage.