Father, son plead guilty to possessing illegal lobsters
Rockland — Two Midcoast men pleaded guilty Aug. 1 to illegally possessing v-notch female lobsters during a Marine Patrol inspection of their lobster boat in November.
The pair, father Ricky Curtis, 53, of Union, and his son, 29-year-old Todd Curtis of South Thomaston, were initially charged with possession of more than 400 illegal lobsters, a Class D offense.
Both men have had their lobster licenses suspended for one year, said Marine Patrol Chief Col. Joseph Fessenden.
The charge was amended Thursday to possession of 120 mutilated or v-notch lobsters from 400. Both men were ordered to pay a fine of $12,500 by Justice Jeffrey Hjelm.
The lobsters were discovered during an inspection of Curtis’ vessel North Star by Marine Patrol Specialist Matthew Talbot and Marine Patrol Officer Wesley Dean.
All lobstermen participate in a mandatory v-notch program, requiring them to notch all egg-bearing lobsters. 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.
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 of Maine's lobster resource, according to a news release from the Maine Marine Patrol.
“We consider this a very serious crime for a number of reasons,” said Fessenden in a news release. “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.”
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.