Maine set its first size regulations in 1874, establishing the minimum legal size a lobster must be before it can be landed.  Harvesting small lobsters, many lobstermen recognized, just made no sense. If the lobster had not reached the point of sexual maturity, taking small lobsters meant reducing the number of young lobsters in the future. As time went on, lobstermen realized that taking large, older lobsters, particularly females, would also reduce the number of young since bigger lobsters are more likely to breed and breed in greater quantities!

Today, in order to protect both the young immature lobsters, and the larger fertile lobsters,the State of Maine has minimum and maximum size restrictions. All lobstermen must carry a metal gauge designed to measure a lobster from eye socket to edge of the carapace at the tail. A lobster must be at least 3-1/4 inches up to 5 inches in size. Those smaller or larger are tossed back into the ocean.

The Department of Marine Resources 2019 at-sea surveys of lobstermen’s catches indicates that close to four out of every five lobsters found in each trap are below legal size.

Undersized lobster measurement

According to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, it takes a lobster an average of five to seven years to reach market size. It is incredibly hard to farm raise lobsters, as is done with say salmon and oysters, due to the amount of time it takes along with feeding and maintaining them. Another struggle to farm grown lobsters is that when they are in close quarters, they will begin to eat each other. This is another reason for the rubber bands being put on the claws of lobsters when they are caught. However, lobsters being farm raised cannot wear the bands for 5-7 years, and therefore must be kept in individual pens. 

Oversized lobster measurement

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