Over 400 of the illegal lobsters were discovered during an inspection of Mr. Curtis’ vessel “North Star” by Marine Patrol Specialist Matthew Talbot and Marine Patrol Officer Wesley Dean. The potential fine for illegal possession of this many v-notch and mutilated lobsters in Maine is over $190,000.
All lobstermen in the State of Maine participate in a mandatory v-notch program, requiring them to notch all egg-bearing lobsters prior to liberation. The practice of notching the tail of a known “breeder” extends her protection beyond the hatching of her eggs and plays a critical role in the conservation and propagation of Maine’s lobster resource.
“We consider this a very serious crime for a number of reasons,” said Colonel Joseph Fessenden, Chief of the Maine Marine Patrol. “The illegal taking of any lobsters negatively affects the resource and is a direct theft from those lobstermen who abide by the laws every day that they fish.”
It is illegal to keep v-notched lobsters or those that have been mutilated in a manner which could hide or obliterate the v-notch. If a female lobster is carrying eggs, a v-notch tool or a sharp knife is used to remove a very small portion from the center of the tail’s flipper immediately to the right of the center flipper. This v-notch will remain through the next few molts allowing her to reproduce several more times.
An arraignment for the two men has been scheduled for January 14 in Knox County District Court.