Massachusetts has one of the most regulated fishing industries in the entire country. Strict regulations imposed by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) help ensure coastline protection and biodiverse waters. Commonwealth Quality requires that lobsters be harvested in accordance with all DMF regulations. In addition, dealers who wish to participate in the program must provide documentation to prove their lobsters are harvested in accordance with these regulations
Permitting & Licensing Requirements
Permit and license requirements help maintain a sustainable resource and promote food safety, protecting valuable natural resources and consumers alike. Licenses are required of all persons who intend to sell lobsters. To participate in Commonwealth Quality, lobstermen must possess a commercial fishing license issued by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF). Prior to receiving their license, permit holders must prove involvement within the commercial fishing industry for at least two years; this ensures local lobstermen have practical experience prior to becoming licensed to harvest commercially. The Division of Marine Fisheries limits the number of commercial lobster licenses available as well as the number of traps allowed per license.
Commonwealth Quality certified lobstermen must report landings to the state on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. Reports must include information about the harvest area and the amount harvested and the disposition of the catch! By supplying this information, harvesters enable local officials to closely monitor stock, ensuring that waters are not overfished.
Management plans for all Massachusetts fisheries are currently under the direction of the following government organizations:
- The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF)
- The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)
- The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
- The New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC)
Massachusetts Lobster Fishing Best Management Practices (BMPs)
Commonwealth Quality participants not only adhere to strict regulations enforced by federal, state and local government, they also employ best management practices (BMPs) developed specifically for the program by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) and the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association. The lobsterman then signs a contract agreeing to the terms and conditions set forth by the Commonwealth Quality Program. Lobster BMPs are designed to promote food safety as well as protect the environment and wildlife, all while ensuring the consumer receives the highest-quality product possible.