Sale or possession of short lobsters; mutilation of short lobsters; prima facie evidence
Section 44. Whoever sells, or offers for sale, or has in possession for a period longer than is necessary for immediate measuring, or for any purpose other than legally disposing of same, a lobster measuring in length less than the minimum size prescribed by this section, alive or dead, cooked or uncooked, measured from the rear of the eye socket along a line parallel to the center line of the body shell to the rear end of the body shell, shall be punished for the first offense by a fine of not less than one hundred nor more than five hundred dollars for every such lobster and for a subsequent offense by a fine of not less than five hundred nor more than one thousand dollars for every such lobster or by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than three months or both, and such lobster shall be seized and forfeited, and shall be disposed of by the director to the best interest of the commonwealth.
Beginning on January 1, 1989, the minimum size shall be 31/4 inches. Thereafter, the director may, by regulation approved by the marine fisheries advisory commission, increase the minimum size, and may establish different minimum sizes in separate geographic areas, if he determines that such increases are necessary to achieve compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Fisheries Management Plan for American lobster.
If the measurement of any such lobster taken from 1 or the other eye sockets is of the required length, such lobster shall be deemed to be a legal lobster. In all prosecutions under this section, any mutilation of any lobster which affects its measurement as aforesaid shall be prima facie evidence that the lobster was or is less than the required length; provided, however, that the director shall, by regulation approved by the marine fisheries advisory commission, allow the on-shore processing in the commonwealth of live lobsters of legal length into frozen shell-on lobster tails by wholesale dealers that are licensed by the department of public health under section 77G of chapter 94. Processed frozen lobster tails may be possessed, sold or offered for sale in the commonwealth by any wholesale dealer, retail dealer or food establishments and such food product may be possessed by a consumer. The processing, possession or sale of said frozen lobster tails pursuant to this section shall be limited to lobster tails weighing 3 ounces or more. The packaging of processed frozen lobster tails pursuant to this section as a food product shall be labeled in accordance with applicable federal and state laws and regulations. This section shall not apply to common carriers having lobster in possession for the purpose of transportation.