be free, lobster! be free!

by Grace Bonney

I couldn’t resist starting today with a bit of a non sequitur: a short video of me freeing a lobster in Menemsha Harbor. Yesterday my family and I drove up to Menemsha to check out the boats and noticed a sign at the old Poole’s Fish shop saying you could buy and free female lobsters. I’m not sure if it makes a huge difference, but they notch the tails so fisherman will supposedly let them go if they pick them up. Regardless, it was great getting to pick a lobster out of the tank and then watch it swim away into the water again (they told us to toss it from the bridge; I promise it wasn’t my choice to chuck it like that). Today we’re catching a bus back to Brooklyn so this is my last morning in town. Martha’s Vineyard has been great to us this week and I can’t wait to share more pictures. Until then, some of my favorites are below. xo, grace

Menemsha Fish Market on Martha’s Vineyard, formerly Poole’s Fish.

CLICK HERE for more photos from Menemsha Harbor after the jump.

Squibnocket Beach

I loved the orange door on this little building on the Menemsha Harbor.

This was too funny to pass up. Squid Row sign in Menemsha Harbor.

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  • Aww love this. I freed some crabs recentley as I bought them not realising they would be live and I just didnt have the heart to kill them! I let them free on the beach by where I live. I got so much more satisfaction out of freeing the lil guys then I would have out of eating them! I swear they waved to me as they scuttled off into the water! They prob couldnt belive their luck! Thanks for sharing this post has brought a big smile to my face : D

  • She will be OK! They really don’t take the notched ones as it’s illegal. Massachusetts lobstermen (like my dad and brother) are working hard to replenish the state’s lobster population. Similar efforts are taking place in Maine and elsewhere, too.

  • wow – sounds like a quite a business. this fish market buys female lobsters (WHICH ARE ILLEGAL TO TAKE IN MA) from commercial fishermen who are required to v-notch females (and have obviously ignored their obligation and illegally landed them anyway), then sells them to tourists to release them. quite a scheme.

  • lovely pics from what looks like a great weekend!
    Just the lobster freeing, sounds fishy to me. They shouldn’t ask you money for that!

  • Thanks for the Vineyard pics! I worked two summers at the Menemsha Market (not the fish market but the shop across from Homeport.) Great sunsets! Might be heading back up there soon to learn to weave from my great aunt.

  • Aww, as a vegan I really appreciate that. Be free sweet little lobster girl! I don’t really understand where they are getting the lobsters from in the first place though. Sounds a little fishy to me.

  • That’s really weird – the lobstermen are supposed to notch the tails of egg-bearing females and release them immediately. It is against the law to keep them.

  • Wait, I just realized the key word is ‘egg-bearing.’ If they catch unnotched females without eggs it is OK to sell them. But notching the tail of a non-egg-bearing female sounds like a tourist um adaptation.

  • I used to work at Beach Plum Inn just up the road overlooking Menemsha Harbor – I lived “on island” for five years and this truly brought a smile to my face. Thanks!

  • Some family and friends chip together every Thanksgiving and take the money they would spend on a turkey and buy the oldest lobster they can find at the pound and release him. The big ones are often in their 40s and it’s sad to think that after they’ve made it so long in the wild that they end their days in a pot.

    Thanks Grace. I think it’s the statement that counts. What a wonderful thing to do.

  • There’s some sustainability for you! That’s really cool. I’ve been known to eat a few lobster from larsen’s in the summer, so it’s great to see that consumers can have some effect on the lobster population in the other direction! Anyone going to the vineyard has to go to state rd. restaurant–breakfast, lunch or dinner, it is really fantastic and perfect for the localvore!

  • i sterned in maine and i can tell you that the notched ladies always get thrown back. maine lobsterman are very serious about keeping the ecosystem balanced here!

    • d

      the lobster roll i had friday was delicious. thanks.

      i’ve talked about my struggles with eating meat vs. not eating meat before, and i don’t feel it’s realistic for me to be all or nothing right now. so i try my best to make every effort i can to eat less meat and do anything i can to give back to animals/animal rights every chance i get.


  • Sweet gesture…althought I may have been too tempted to release her into some butter sauce.

  • As Kate said above, this does sound like quite the racket. They probably go just off the bridge they tell you to throw them from, catch the females again and bring them in to resell to tourists.

    I do appreciate your sentiment, Grace. It just seems like this place is taking advantage of people and not doing much to help the lobster population. After all, if all these females are in a tank, how are they going to find a male and produce eggs?