Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bill to Expand Lobster Sales Adopted by Senate

Boston- The State Senate today adopted a bill which updates Massachusetts’ lobster laws to permit the processing, sale, and transportation of cooked and frozen in-shell lobster parts. Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester) sponsored the measure to end prohibitions on in-state sales and processing of lobster parts to accommodate the growing interest of consumers. The bill, supported by the Massachusetts lobster industry, is expected to cause an expansion of lobster processed in state and a reduction in lobster diversions to Canadian processors.

“This bill will allow more American lobsters currently being harvested and purchased here and subsequently processed in Canada, to be prepared for market in Massachusetts,” said Tarr. “The net effect of modernizing the law will bolster local economic activity for lobstermen, processors, and local restaurants and food stores.”

Tarr expressed appreciation for coastal Senators Mark Montigny (D- New Bedford),Vinny deMacedo (R- Plymouth), Daniel Wolf (D- Harwich) and Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) for their efforts to strengthen the industry and in championing the bill.

“The time has come to eliminate such outdated restrictions on lobster processing and sales in the Commonwealth. Easing constraints on processing operations will allow a thriving industry to further invest in our local economy through expanding operations and creating new jobs. I commend Senator Tarr’s leadership as the sponsor of this bill and am proud to have partnered with him in seeing this through to passage. It is my hope the House will quickly follow the Senate’s lead to have a bill on the Governor’s desk as soon as possible.” said Senator Montigny.

“I am thrilled that the Senate has taken steps to bring this bill forward with a unanimous vote and I know that the lobstermen will be pleased with the advancements that we’ve made,” said Senator deMacedo.

The lobster industry is a critical part of the Commonwealth’s economy and heritage with more than 900 licensed lobstermen. A similar law in Maine has boosted Maine’s economy, produced local outlets for product sales, and created jobs in the state.

“The action of the Senate today helps consumers, suppliers and lobstermen, I expect that we will see an economic boost for the lobstermen in my district and in other coastal communities in the state as well,” said Senator Rodrigues. “Our historic lobster industry deserves the opportunity to be more creative and flexible in how they market and sell their popular product,” said Cape and Islands Senator Wolf. “This legislation is a huge help in that regard, and will create economic benefits that will ripple through our coastal communities.”

While the sale of live, cooked, and canned lobster is legal in the state, the legislation expands the industry market with the inclusion of other lobster products. The Senate bill allows Department of Public Health licensed wholesale dealers to process unfrozen lobsters, authorizes the importation of unfrozen shell-on lobster parts and tails, and it allows for the retail of previously frozen raw in-shell tails.

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries will be responsible for maintaining essential regulations including enforcing minimum lobster shell size standards and processing standards. The lobster fishery adheres to stringent state regulations including trap limits and the release of live juveniles.

The bill now moves to the House for further consideration.