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no lobstertail in MA?

j
joebloe Mar 22, 2012 06:41 PM

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. barleywino Mar 22, 2012 07:40 PM

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

    10 Replies
    1. re: barleywino
      s
      ScotchandSirloin Mar 23, 2012 06:45 AM

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

      1. re: ScotchandSirloin
        e
        emannths Mar 23, 2012 07:00 AM

        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
          s
          ScotchandSirloin Mar 23, 2012 09:10 AM

          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
            f
            Fly Mar 23, 2012 09:26 AM

            "Shell on" seems pretty clear.

            1. re: Fly
              s
              ScotchandSirloin Mar 23, 2012 10:23 AM

              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
                e
                emannths Mar 23, 2012 10:48 AM

                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
            w
            Wannabfoode Mar 23, 2012 12:07 PM

            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
              galleygirl Apr 2, 2014 03:33 PM

              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
                l
                lc02139 Apr 2, 2014 03:52 PM

                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
          9
          9lives Mar 23, 2012 01:22 PM

          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. Karl S Mar 23, 2012 06:59 AM

          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. m
            mkfisher Mar 23, 2012 09:28 AM

            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
              e
              emannths Mar 23, 2012 09:32 AM

              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. itaunas Mar 23, 2012 10:59 AM

              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. 9
                9lives Mar 23, 2012 01:13 PM

                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. ipsofatso Mar 23, 2012 02:41 PM

                  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
                    e
                    emannths Mar 23, 2012 02:53 PM

                    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
                      9
                      9lives Mar 23, 2012 03:02 PM

                      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
                        StriperGuy Mar 23, 2012 05:39 PM

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

                      2. re: emannths
                        ipsofatso Mar 23, 2012 06:12 PM

                        Yes, if you shell it you can sell it.

                        1. re: emannths
                          ipsofatso Mar 23, 2012 06:19 PM

                          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
                            hotoynoodle Mar 24, 2012 08:10 AM

                            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
                              d
                              dtremit Mar 24, 2012 11:34 AM

                              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. s
                          ScotchandSirloin Mar 24, 2012 09:00 AM

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

                          1. j
                            joebloe Mar 25, 2012 12:23 AM

                            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. BlueMagic Mar 25, 2012 04:16 AM

                              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. n
                                nikkis2 Apr 2, 2014 02:11 PM

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

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