In what the Maine Marine Patrol calls an “egregious” violation of the law, a Stonington lobsterman has been charged with possessing hundreds of undersized lobsters and illegal female lobsters.
If convicted, Theodore Gray, 34, faces potential jail time and more than $100,000 in fines.
The Marine Patrol said that on May 9 it charged Gray with possessing 269 undersized lobsters and 123 female lobsters with so-called V-notches, as well as 20 traps owned by another lobsterman.
Several aspects of the case remain under investigation and additional charges may be filed, according to the Marine Patrol.
“Through my 28-year career I have only seen a handful of what I would call extreme violations like this involving the taking of short lobsters,” said Marine Patrol Maj. Jon Cornish. “In the last 24 years, there have only been two such cases, which make this one of the most egregious violations I have seen.”
Maine law requires that lobsters measuring less than 3¼ inches be released immediately.
State law also requires that if a lobsterman catches a female lobster carrying eggs, he use a V-notch tool or knife to remove a small, triangular portion of the tail flipper. The lobster is then returned to the water, allowing it to grow larger and reproduce in future years. V-notching began in Maine in 1917 and has been mandatory since 2002.
“The seemingly blatant disregard for marine resources law exposed by this investigation is both shocking and reprehensible,” said Marine Patrol Lt. Jay Carroll.
The estimated value of the traps was $2,500. Tampering with another harvester’s gear is a civil violation with a potential fine of between $100 and $500.
The other violations come with much more stringent penalties.
Possession of undersized lobsters is a Class D crime with the possibility of one year in jail. Penalties include $500 for each violation and $100 for each lobster involved up to and including the first five, plus an additional $200 for each lobster in excess of five. In addition to jail time, the total potential fine Gray faces for that alleged violation is $53,800.
Possession of V-notched lobsters is also a Class D crime with the possibility of one year in jail. In addition, a fine of $500 for each violation can be imposed, as well as a fine of $100 for each lobster up to and including the first five, and a fine of $400 for each lobster in excess of five. For that alleged offense, Gray faces a fine totaling $48,200.
Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at: