Father, son claim innocence in major illegal lobster case

Posted Jan. 14, 2013, at 3:34 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A pair of Knox County lobstermen have pleaded not guilty to possessing more than 400 illegal lobsters.

The not guilty pleas were entered by defense attorney Philip Cohen of Waldoboro on behalf of Ricky F. Curtis, 48, of Union and his son, Todd Curtis, 30, of South Thomaston. The two men were scheduled to make an initial court appearance Monday in Rockland District Court, but Cohen filed the pleas earlier on their behalf and the two were not required to appear in court Monday.

More than 400 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, according to the Marine Patrol.

The state prohibits lobstermen from keeping egg-bearing lobsters and requires fishermen put a notch in the tail of these lobsters before putting them back in the water so they can reproduce.

The father and son were issued summonses for possessing v-notched lobsters or lobsters that had been mutilated in a manner which could hide or obliterate the v-notch, according to the Marine Patrol.

“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 last month. “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, the two men could face suspension of their licenses to catch lobsters.

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