Sale of shell-on lobster claws bound for Senate floor

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STATE HOUSE — Massachusetts lobstermen could get a leg-up if a Senate bill set for consideration next Thursday becomes law.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, a Gloucester Republican who sponsored the bill (S 469), said it would allow for shell-on lobster claws to be processed and sold in Massachusetts.

In contrast to the groundfishery, hampered by lowered federal catch limits on cod and other stock, the Bay State’s lobster fishery is “doing fairly well,” according to Tarr, who said there are concerns about the prices lobsters fetch at the market and competition from Canada.

Tarr said the bill would expand on a recent law allowing for the processing and sale of shell-on lobster tail in Massachusetts. The prohibition on the sale of shell-on lobster parts stemmed from concern that lobsters that don’t meet state specifications could be split apart into tails and claws onboard a vessel to “avoid detection,” said Tarr, who said regulation of the lobster fishery has improved over the years.

Rep. James Cantwell, a Marshfield Democrat, co-sponsored the bill and Tarr said the House has been supportive of efforts to support the fishing industry.

“I’m enthusiastic that we’re going to be able to start the new year with good progress on something that’s important to commercial fishing,” Tarr told the News Service. Tarr said he didn’t anticipate amendments to the legislation, which cleared the Senate Committee on Ways and Means on Thursday after passing the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture last July.

— Written by Andy Metzger

Copyright State House News Service