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Commercial lobster & crab regulations

You can learn about the regulations that govern commercial lobster & crab fishing in the information below. Regulations table was updated on September 20, 2017.

The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) works hard to keep this regulations tables accurate and up to date. This is an unofficial copy. The Secretary of State maintains the official copy of the 322 CMR. You can buy an official copy from the state bookstore. For more information on ordering a copy of 322 CMR, visit the Secretary of State website.

Commercial lobster & crab regulations

Species LCMA Min Size Max Size V-Notch Possession Possession Limit
Blue Crabs (1)  All 5"  -- -- 25 crabs per day
Cancer Crabs (2)  All 4 3/4" -- --

No limit for lobster trap fishers

1,000 crab limit per trip for non-trap fishers

Other Edible Crabs  All -- -- -- --
Lobsters (3) * 1 3 1/4" 5"

v-shape notch of any size with
or without setal hairs

  2 3 3/8" 5 1/4" 1/8" notch or indentation 
with or without setal hairs
  3 3 17/32" 6 3/4" 1/8" notch or indentation 
with or without setal hairs
  OCC 3 3/8" --** 1/4" notch or indentation tapering to sharp point 
with or without setal hairs**


A commercial coastal or offshore lobster permit is needed to retain, posses, or land lobsters or edible crabs in Massachusetts. 

* Lobster fishers permitted to fish in more than one LCMA must adhere to the most restrictive standards pertaining to minimum size, maximum size and v-notch possession standards of their permitted LCMAs.

** Federal permit holders must abide by the more restrictive federal rules of a 6 3/4 inch max gauge size and 1/8 inch with or w/out setal hairs v-notch definition.

1) Blue Crabs are measured across the shell from tip to tip of the posterior-most, longest spines along the lateral margins of the carapace. Any egg bearing crab or female crab with an egg mass or pouch must be returned to the water.

2) Cancer crabs refer to both the rock crab and Jonah crab species. The 4 3/4" minimum size applies only to Jonah crabs. Jonah crabs are measured by carapace width. Egg bearing females must be returned to the water. Bycatch by net fishermen may not exceed the 1,000 crab limit, nor may it exceed 50% of the total catch by weight of all fish retained during the trip. Net fishermen are reminded that in order to possess and land cancer crabs in Massachusetts, they must hold a commercial lobster permit. 

3) Carapace length measured from the rear of eye socket parallel to the center line of the body shell to the rear of the bodyshell. All lobsters measuring less than the minimum legal carapace length must be returned to the waters from which taken. All lobsters must be measured immediately. Egg bearing females must be returned to the water.

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