On the Mayhew dock in Menemsha Harbor, Otto Osmers used a wooden-handled fish pick to pry 25 pounds of skate, one by one, from a 55-gallon drum while Chris Mayhew climbed into a pair of bright orange oil-gear overalls.

At seven o’clock on a Sunday morning, most students would still be asleep. But even after a late night of partying, Otto and Chris were wide awake and eager to pull their 25 lobster pots obtained on a special student lobster permit issued by the Division of Marine Fisheries.

The permit provides 25 lobstering tags to students for the commercial season, which lasts between June 15 and Sept. 15. Applicants can be 12 years old and up, as long as they are a Massachusetts resident and a full-time student. There is no limit to the number of licences available and there are currently only 90 in circulation.

According to Story Reed, state Division of Marine Fisheries permitting manager, the program has “been around for decades,” though few people have heard of it.

The student lobstermen inspect their haul. — Ray Ewing

He said the goal is to set young fishermen on the path to becoming commercial fishermen in the future.

Chris and Otto are already well on their way.

This is Otto’s fifth year of holding a student lobstering permit. Chris is in his first year. The two call the job a “side hustle” amid plenty of other commercial fishing gigs. Chris also holds permits for rod and reel, striped bass and tautog in addition to working as a landscaper during the week.

“It’s hard to say what my main job is,” he said. “It’s all kind of just side hustles at this point.”

The stink of the bait hung heavy in the air as it was loaded onto the Fierce II, a 21-foot vessel Otto rebuilt himself from the hull up. He steered the boat through the Menemsha channel and hooked a right along the north shore, scanning the swell for the buoys marked purple and black with a white top.

Longtime lobstermen (“old timers” they called them) have taken notice of the new colors on the water, but the two young lobstermen haven’t had much trouble claiming their own territory.

“It’s hard work getting all the buoys and pots out, finding the right spots, but once you get it going it’s like farming,” Chris said as Otto used a hockey stick, repurposed as a gaff, to hook a buoy and haul in the first pot. “We were bleeding for the first few months . . . but we pretty much broke even last trip.”

The first hauled pot yielded only one lobster.

“That’s seven dollars in the bank,” Chris said, measuring it from the rear of the eye socket to the lower part of the carapace to gauge it for commercial size, which is three and three-eights inches this year.

“Seven dollars in the tank,” Otto corrected as the one-pounder was dropped into the boat’s hand-built livewell.

Re-baiting the pot with skate, Chris explained the inner workings of how the lobsters are lured into the trap. There are two main parts, he said: the kitchen and the parlor.

“They eat in the kitchen, where the bait is, and then retire into the parlor,” he said. “And the parlor has a little escape for the smaller ones to get out.”

He tugged on the whale-safe, explaining that the clip connecting the pot to the line is designed to snap if it comes under the weight of a dolphin or a whale.

Though the first pot held only one “bug,” the haul picked up as they pushed further down the north shore toward the Cape Higgon area. Chris and Otto were happy to throw plenty of eggers — the colloquial term for egg-bearing females — and a few shorts back into the sea.

“They’ll be keepers in a couple months,” Otto said, tossing one short back.

By the time they pulled the last pot, just over 30 pounds of fresh lobster swam in the livewell. They brought the haul to the Menemsha Fish House, where they were paid between $5 and $7 per pound to add to the aggregate tank.

Pete Lambos, general manager of the wholesale distributor, said the Fish House can buy and sell up to 400 pounds of lobster some days. The 30 pounds from the student lobstermen made a decent dent, but the bulk of the weight comes from the full-time commercial lobstermen who have permits for up to 800 pots.

“Based on size, these ones will probably be sent out to the Home Port, Alchemy, or l’etoile,” Mr. Lambos said.

Otto and Chris were satisfied with the day’s haul, and while eating a well-deserved Galley cheeseburger back on the Mayhew dock, they reflected on their place in the commercial fishing world on Martha’s Vineyard.

Otto studies marine biology at Salem State University and Chris studies aquaculture and fisheries sciences at the University of Rhode Island. The two understand the environmental responsibility of their role as the next generation of students and commercial fishermen, in addition to the economic concerns that push many young fishermen away from the industry.

“You hear a lot of the older fishermen griping about scientists and what they’re doing to preserve the stocks, but I try to look at both sides of it,” Chris said. “Profit and environment.”

They said a full-time commercial lobster permit can cost up to $26,000. Often permits only become available if a fisherman dies or sells his or her permit. They said many have noticed a decline in the lobster stocks around the Island and an increase in lobsters with shell disease, a sign of warmer deep-water temperatures.

“If the lobstering is getting bad, then what’s the point of buying in?” Chris asked as Otto nodded in agreement.

“But I like the idea of maximum sustainable yield,” Chris added, sketching a parabola on a piece of paper to explain the term.

He explained that it is about finding the sweet spot between making a profit through harvesting the stock and sustaining the stock through regulations and giving it just enough room to grow.

“It’s hard to find the balance . . . but the idea applies to all fisheries,” he said.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go all in, but we need to get more young people out here,” Chris concluded. “We’re looking at fisheries in new ways . . . and we’ll be the older guys one day.