ROCKLAND, Maine — Two Knox County men face fines of more than $190,000 after state fisheries officials say the men were caught with more than 400 illegal lobsters.
Ricky Curtis, 48, of Union, and his son, Todd Curtis, 29, of South Thomaston, have been charged with illegal possession of v-notched lobsters and mutilated lobsters.
More than 400 of the illegal lobsters were discovered during a Nov. 21 inspection, by Marine Patrol Specialist Matthew Talbot and Marine Patrol Officer Wesley Dean, of Curtis’ vessel North Star.
The father and son were later issued summonses and are scheduled to make their initial court appearance on Jan. 14 in Rockland District Court.
“We consider this a very serious crime for a number of reasons,” said Col. Joseph Fessenden, chief of the Maine Marine Patrol, 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.”
The fines could total more than $190,000 and, according to the Marine Patrol, they could face suspension of their licenses to catch lobsters.
“The commissioner is strongly considering suspension given the seriousness of the charge,” the department stated Friday in an email statement.
It is illegal to keep v-notched lobsters or those that have been mutilated in a manner which could hide or obliterate the v-notch. 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.
All lobstermen in the state of Maine participate in a mandatory v-notch program, requiring them to notch all egg-bearing lobsters prior to liberation. 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 and propagation of Maine’s lobster resource, the department stated.
The lobsters were photographed and released back into the ocean, according to the department.