DEEP: Notice to Lobster Dealers, Wholesalers and Retailers - Pending Statute Changes

Notice to Lobster Dealers, Wholesalers and Retailers

Pending Statute Change

May 11, 2006

On April 18, 2006 the Department mailed a notice to lobster dealers, wholesalers and retailers announcing newly implemented regulations that prohibited, in Connecticut, the possession and sale by anyone of lobsters less than 3-9/32 inches in carapace (body shell) length. Subsequently, on May 3, 2006, the Connecticut General Assembly passed House Bill 5846 that, among other things, implements provisions that provide relief to businesses involved in the interstate commerce of lobsters. This notice explains those provisions, which do not become effective until the governor signs the bill.

In short, section 51 of House Bill 5846 permits the wholesale trade in lobsters less than the Connecticut minimum length under certain conditions while continuing to prohibit the retail sale to consumers (i.e. in markets, stores and restaurants).

Specifically, section 51 of House Bill 5846 allows a seafood dealer, wholesaler or shipper to possess and sell lobsters less than the Lobster Management Area 6 (LMA 6) minimum length (currently 3-9/32") provided:

    1. such lobsters are not taken from LMA 6 (the waters of Long Island Sound and western Block Island Sound) or landed in Connecticut; and
    2. such lobsters are not less than the minimum legal length in effect for the waters of the LMA, state or country of origin and are not less than 3-1/4 inches carapace length, regardless where taken; and
    3. such lobsters are not bartered, exchanged, sold or offered for sale to retail consumers in this state; and
    4. the seafood dealer, wholesaler or shipper possesses a manifest, bill of lading, invoice, purchase order or other written documentation identifying the state, lobster management area or country of origin of the lobsters received, the number of lobsters received that are less than LMA 6 minimum length and the date received. The documentation shall be retained for a period of six months and made available to law enforcement officers upon request.

Currently the LMA 6 minimum carapace length for lobsters is 3-9/32 inches. Effective July 1, 2006, the American Lobster Fishery Management Plan of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission requires a minimum carapace length in LMA 6 of 3-5/16 inches. The Department expects to have 3-5/16 inch lobster gauges available for sale by mid-June.

For further information, contact the DEP Marine Fisheries Division at PO Box 719, Old Lyme, CT 06371 or by telephone at 860.434.6043 between the hours of 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. In addition, the Division can be contacted by email at dep.marine.fisheries@po.state.ct.us.