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no lobstertail in MA?

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I wanted to go Outback steakhouse for their $14.99 sirloin & lobster tail special. They told me it's illegal to serve lobster tail in MA so they don't have that special. Is this true and what is the rational for this law?

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  1. Lots of google links under "illegal lobster tail"
    Apparently it encourages harvesting undersize lobsters which depletes future stock

    10 Replies
    1. re: barleywino

      Does anyone know if this is actually a law in Massachusetts?

      1. re: ScotchandSirloin

        Yes:
        http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dmf/commer...

        322 CMR 6.32 3(b)

        "It shall be unlawful for any person to offer shell-on lobster tails or other shell-on body parts of a mutilated lobster for sale within the Commonwealth."

        1. re: emannths

          I'd love to know what the state's interpretation of that is. You can't sell lobster tails of "mutilated" lobster, but the idea that a restaurant has to serve an entire lobster seems unlikely. That would imply that they can't put a piece of lobster in your bouillabaisse but must give you the entire lobster (understanding that bouillabaisse should only have fish in it in the first place).

          1. re: ScotchandSirloin

            "Shell on" seems pretty clear.

            1. re: Fly

              There are a number of places in Boston that put a half a lobster- shell on -in a frutti di mare. I'm not arguing that the law does or does not prohibit restaurants from selling lobster tails, I just wonder if the state really interprets it that way or if the state is really concerned about lobstermen/wholesalers selling pieces of lobsters.

              1. re: ScotchandSirloin

                My guess is that this is exempt because the restaurant is not considered a seafood dealer. Seafood dealers in MA must be licensed by the state and include both wholesale and retail operations.

                http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dmf/dealer...

          2. re: emannths

            Section 6.32 refers to "Frozen Shell-on Lobster Parts" here's the whole text of the section emannths refered to...
            (3) Prohibitions.
            (a) It shall be unlawful for any person or business to process frozen shell-on lobster parts in Massachusetts for distribution outside the Commonwealth unless the Division has endorsed frozen shell-on lobster part processing as an approved activity on the wholesale dealer permit.
            (b) It shall be unlawful for any person to offer shell-on lobster tails or other shell-on body parts of a mutilated lobster for sale within the Commonwealth.
            (c) It shall be a violation of 322 CMR 6.32 to:
            1. Utilize any lobster for frozen shell-on lobster part processing, unless said lobster, before processing, meet the minimum legal size requirements established in M.G.L. c. 130, § 44, and;
            2. To possess any lobster below the minimum size in the process area or freezers or at any location associated with the facility listed on the permit.
            (d) It shall be a violation of 322 CMR 6.32 to freeze or offer for sale any shell-on parts of a lobster other than the tail and carapace.
            (e) Use of other than live lobster for frozen shell-on lobster part processing is prohibited."

            1. re: Wannabfoode

              Whole Foods sells lobster tails from Craigster, in Maine...My guess is that they, and others,are certified via (c)1, above "...unless said lobster, before processing, meet the minimum legal size requirements established in M.G.L. c. 130, § 44, and;...."

              1. re: galleygirl

                This email thread is pretty old 2012, I think the law changed recently so that frozen lobster tails are now legal for whole sellers can sell them in MA now.

                http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/...

        2. re: barleywino

          The penalties of taking undersized lobsters can be pretty severe. Even as a recreational lobsterman, I'd likely lose my traps, face a big fine, and worst case lose my boat. For a professional, he's risking his livelihood. Same with undersize or oversize tuna. Depts of Fish and Game take their jobs very seriously.

        3. MA forbids the importation of ME lobster tails and claws on their own. Another explanation could be that, because MA has rules that marketing lobster without qualification must refer to the specific species of American lobster, Outback can't comply because it's using tails from a different species, like rock lobster....

          1. Don't places like Captain Mardens sell lobster tails? I could swear I've seen baked stuff lobster tails there before (though it's been years since I've been in the store so I very well could be wrong)

            1 Reply
            1. re: mkfisher

              The process of stuffing it probably makes it no longer "shell-on" -- ie, once removed from the shell, it's no longer considered shell-on even if put back in the shell.

            2. You could go to Jimmy's in Arlington for their strip steak and crab pie combo (which sometimes becomes lobster pie in the summer but I don't enjoy it that much). I know its not the same and $3 more on the dinner menu (its often a special at lunch for less), but its a local surf and turf special that I enjoy.

              1. The original rationale for the law was to protect our local lobster industry from competition from frozen, out of state/country lobster tails; which are easier/cheaper to ship.

                I wondered how Outback was getting around the law and the answer is they aren't.

                1. Is is PERFECTLY LEGAL to sell lobster tail, tails only....look at 2 d below. What you can't sell are the claws. One can also sell UN-shelled crab meat.

                  The bigger question is what was a Chowhound doing at Outback????

                  Prohibitions.
                  (a) It shall be unlawful for any person or business to process frozen shell-on lobster parts in Massachusetts for distribution outside the Commonwealth unless the Division has endorsed frozen shell-on lobster part processing as an approved activity on the wholesale dealer permit.
                  (b) It shall be unlawful for any person to offer shell-on lobster tails or other shell-on body parts of a mutilated lobster for sale within the Commonwealth.
                  (c) It shall be a violation of 322 CMR 6.32 to:
                  1. Utilize any lobster for frozen shell-on lobster part processing, unless said lobster, before processing, meet the minimum legal size requirements established in M.G.L. c. 130, § 44, and;
                  2. To possess any lobster below the minimum size in the process area or freezers or at any location associated with the facility listed on the permit.
                  (d) It shall be a violation of 322 CMR 6.32 to freeze or offer for sale any shell-on parts of a lobster other than the tail and carapace.
                  (e) Use of other than live lobster for frozen shell-on lobster part processing is prohibited.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: ipsofatso

                    Err...(b) outlaws the sale of shell-on tails (or any other shell-on part) within MA.

                    "(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to offer shell-on lobster tails or other shell-on body parts of a mutilated lobster for sale within the Commonwealth."

                    1. re: emannths

                      http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dmf/commer...

                      I'm not an attorney and don't really have the inclination to read the whole thing right now; but here's the law in it's entirety...lobster 6.32.

                      As to a mutilated lobster, most mutilated fish is smaller than it's non mutilated counterpart; though I have heard of fishermen using Striped Bass stretchers, to meet the min size..:)

                      1. re: 9lives

                        I keep a striper stretcher in my trunk at all times...

                      2. re: emannths

                        Yes, if you shell it you can sell it.

                        1. re: emannths

                          The entire regulation is for FROZEN lobster, NOT fresh. If you have a restaurant you can take a fresh lobster out of your tank, cut the tail off, or not, grill it, fry it, steam it, whatever you want. and serve the whole tail or the whole lobster.

                          Outback sells ONLY frozen lobster so they can't serve the tails, apparently.

                          1. re: ipsofatso

                            i'm confuzzled. pretty much every fine-dining steakhouse in town sells lobster tails, which are shipped frozen. mostly from south africa or australia.

                            1. re: ipsofatso

                              It seems more likely they can serve whatever they want (after all, they could always take it out of the shell) -- but that the restaurant can't *buy* frozen lobster tails for their MA stores.

                        2. Anyone know someone at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries who can settle this question?

                          1. I swear I saw a bunch of frozen lobster tails on sale at Bj's and Costco, so this law can't be true?

                            I was browsing this website and then the Outback $14.99 sirloin and lobstertail special popped up. I've never been to nor care for this restaurant so I figured it's about time. Now that the special is not available, maybe I'll never get to go...which is fine.

                            1. This is confusing to me since lobster tails is one of my favorite things to order in a restaurant. In fact they were on the menu of Angelica's where I ate dinner last night. Maybe the law has to do with the lobster tail while it is still in the shell? Not sure, but I do know I have had sauteed lobster tails at restaurants many times.

                              1. The same thing happened to me at Outback in New Hampshire!!! Yet they sold steak with shrimp and lobster pieces for twice the price