Mass. Senate Members Continue to Push for Lobster Bill
State senators are once again lobbying the House to agree to changes they say will boost the lobster industry and jobs. Under an approved amendment to a midyear spending bill, supporters hope that lobsters that are currently sent away for parts processing will instead be processed in Massachusetts.
Sponsored by Sen. Bruce Tarr, the amendment permits wholesale dealers to process unfrozen lobster parts, import unfrozen shell-on lobster parts, and allow for the sale of processed lobster parts. According to Tarr, the sale of living, cooked lobster and tails is legal in Massachusetts, but up to 80 percent of lobsters landed in Massachusetts are currently sent to out-of-state parts processing facilities.
The changes included in the $144 million spending bill are backed by the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association, which is "looking forward to getting these operations running in the near future," according to a statement from executive director Beth Casoni.
The House often refuses to agree to policy proposals attached by the Senate to spending bills, in favor of considering the bills on their own. Tarr's bill on the topic (S 530) is pending before the Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and has not been scheduled yet for a public hearing.
Senators are hoping the House will agree to the budget rider. "Easing archaic constraints on lobster processing operations will allow a thriving industry to further invest in our local economy through expanding operations and creating new jobs, especially in New Bedford," Sen. Mark Montigny, a Democrat, said in a statement released by the minority leader's office.
Tarr's bill is cosponsored in the House by Reps. Susan Gifford of Wareham, Christopher Hendricks of New Bedford, James Kelcourse of Amesbury, Matthew Muratore of Plymouth and Patrick Kearney of Scituate