Thursday, May 24, 2018
My office shared this press release tonight.
PLAN TO EXPAND LOBSTER PROCESSING
ADOPTED BY SENATE Would Boost Economic Activity & Consumer Options
Boston- The State Senate today backed a plan that could lift limits on the processing, sale, and transportation of cooked and frozen in-shell lobster parts. Under existing laws, Massachusetts lobstermen and seafood vendors are required to sell or transport lobster out-of-state for processing and then bring them back for sale to consumers in the bay state – often with a ‘Product of Canada’ label.
Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester) sponsored the measure, an amendment to the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget bill, in recognition that up to 80% of lobster landed in the state is then sent to out of state processing facilities. Industry leaders say the move will facilitate opportunities to create and grow jobs in the state. This is the Senate’s latest of many attempts to expand opportunities for the sustainability of the state’s commercial lobster industry, the amendment received unanimous support.
“Massachusetts has the second-largest lobster catch in the country, to keep from being left behind we should expand our ability to process raw and frozen lobster parts. American lobsters are being harvested here and should be prepared for market here instead of Canada or Maine,” said Senator Tarr. “The net effect of modernizing the law will bolster local economic activity and give local restaurants and food stores superior access to the best lobster parts for their customers.”
Tarr expressed appreciation for coastal Senators Mark Montigny (D- New Bedford),Vinny deMacedo (R- Plymouth), 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“The time has come to eliminate such outdated restrictions on lobster processing and sales in the Commonwealth.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, especially in New Bedford. I commend Senator Tarr’s leadership and am proud to have partnered with him in seeing this through to passage. It is my hope the House will finally accept this measure in conference and get it on the Governor’s desk.” said Senator Montigny, cosponsor of the legislation.
“I am glad to join my colleagues in the Senate in support of our Massachusetts lobster fishermen,” said Senator deMacedo (R-Plymouth). “These advancements in our approach to lobster processing will provide an important benefit to the lobster industry and the fishermen who play such an important role in our communities and economy.”
The amendment will direct the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries to implement new regulations permitting on-shore processing of lobsters after an assessment of whether such activity would harm the lobster stock or the sustainability of the state’s commercial lobster industry.
The lobster industry is a critical part of the Commonwealth’s economy and heritage. A similar law in Maine has boosted that state’s economy, produced local outlets for product sales, and created jobs.
“The amendment adopted in the Senate’s budget works to ensure the sustainability and viability of the state’s lobster industry,” said Senator Michael Rodrigues. “This measure will benefit both consumers and lobstermen in coastal communities statewide”
While the sale of live, cooked, and canned lobster is legal in the state, the legislation will expand the industry market with the inclusion of other lobster products. The amendment could permit wholesale dealers licensed by the Department of Public Health to process unfrozen lobsters, import unfrozen shell-on lobster parts and tails, and allow for the retail of previously frozen raw in-shell tails.
Following a successful assessment, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries will maintain 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. #