Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
Chapter 130 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 44, as appearing in the 1986 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following two sections:-
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 twenty-five nor more than fifty dollars for every such lobster and for a subsequent offense by a fine of not less than fifty nor more than one hundred 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.
Until January first, nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, the minimum size shall be three and three-sixteenths inches. Thereafter, except as otherwise provided in this section, the minimum size shall be as follows: Beginning on January first, nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, three and seven-thirty-seconds inches; beginning on January first, nineteen hundred and eighty-nine, three and eight-thirty-seconds inches; beginning on January first, nineteen hundred and ninety-one, three and nine-thirty-seconds inches; and beginning on January first, nineteen hundred and ninety-two, three and ten-thirty-seconds inches. The director may by regulation approved by the marine fisheries advisory commission delay implementation of any increase in minimum size prescribed by this section beyond three and three-sixteenths inches if he determines that such increase would adversely affect the Massachusetts lobster fishery and shall do so if he determines that such increase would cause the minimum size to exceed the minimum size in effect in Maine or Rhode Island. If any increase is so delayed the minimum size previously in effect shall remain in effect until such time as the director shall by regulation provide. The director may, by regulation approved by the marine fisheries advisory commission, prescribe such increases in minimum size beyond three and ten-thirty-seconds inches as he shall determine to be beneficial to the Massachusetts lobster fishery provided, however, that no such increase shall take effect prior to January first, nineteen hundred and ninety-four.
If the measurement of any such lobster taken from one 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. This section shall not apply to common carriers having lobster in possession for the purpose of transportation.
Section 44A. The director may, by regulation approved by the marine fisheries advisory commission and promulgated pursuant to chapter thirty A, establish a program to protect V-notched lobsters. For purposes of this section, the term "V-notched lobster" means a female egg-bearing lobster from which a V-shaped piece of tail has been cut from the first right flipper next to the middle flipper by a person holding or covered by a permit issued pursuant to section thirty-eight.