Saturday, 19 January 2013

Maine men accused in lobster crime face possible $190,000 fine

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - A Maine lobsterman and his son pleaded not guilty on Monday to illegally possessing more than 400 protected egg-bearing female lobsters and face a possible $190,000 fine, authorities said.

Marine patrol officers discovered the lobsters, marked with a v-shaped notch in their tails or mutilated to remove the notch, during an inspection last year of a boat owned by Ricky Curtis, the state Department of Marine Resources said in a statement.

Maine requires lobstermen to notch the tails of egg-bearing female lobsters before returning them to the ocean as a conservation measure. The lobsters may then reproduce several more times.

"We consider this a very serious crime," Colonel Joseph Fessenden, Marine Patrol chief, said in the statement.

"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," Fessenden said.
Ricky Curtis, 48, and his son Todd Curtis, 29, entered a not guilty plea through the mail at Knox County District Court in Rockland, Maine, a court clerk said.

They face a fine of more than $190,000 if they are convicted of the crime, the statement from wildlife authorities said.

Their attorney, Philip Cohen, declined to comment on the charges.

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