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SCUBA Regulations for Recreational Lobster/Crabbing

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Permits and Conditions

A Recreational Lobster/Crabbing Permit endorsed for diving is required of all individuals who recreationally dive for lobsters in coastal waters.

No permit is required for the taking of edible crabs (including blue crabs) for use by immediate family if diving, dip-netting or using “star” traps , provided that the number of blue crabs does not exceed twenty-five (25) in one day, or fifty (50) total in one day for other edible crabs, and that no 6-sided pots or traps are used.

Gear Marking

Divers must display their assigned permit number upon their tank and dive flag or a floating marker (upright single panel at least 12” x 12”, white background, black numerals at least 3” high, 1/2″ in thickness or width of line on both sides of the marker). A group of divers may use only one floating marker listing the permit number of EACH diver in the group.

Catch Limits

There is a limit of 15 lobsters per day per permit, and all lobsters must meet the legal requirements. Divers are required to measure all lobsters in possession prior to surfacing.

Taking of blue crabs and other edible crabs is prohibited from January 1 through April 30.

There is a limit of 25 blue crabs per day.

There is a combined limit of 50 edible crabs (blue, Jonah and rock) per day.

Gear Requirements

Every diver or group of divers, while swimming on or below the surface of the waters of the Commonwealth, is required by Massachusetts General Law to display a dive flag.

Flag must be at least twelve inches by fifteen inches in area of red background with a white diagonal stripe.

The dive flag must be displayed on a boat or surface float.

It must extend at least 3 feet from the surface of the water.

Divers shall remain in an area within one hundred feet of such displayed diver’s flag while at or near the surface of the water.

Methods of Taking Lobsters and Crabs

Not Allowed: Massachusetts General Laws prohibits the taking of lobsters by spearing, dipping, or dragging.

Spearing – the use of a spear gun, pole spear, or any other object that may be used to pierce the shell of the lobster as a means of harvest.

Dipping – the use of a dip net.

Dragging – the use of mobile or hauled nets or dredges.

Snaring – the use of poles with loops.

Allowed: Harvesting of lobster by hand, or the use of an angled “tickle stick,” which is a straight or slightly bent stick used to agitate a lobster into coming out of its hole.

Common Questions

I have a 10-pot Recreational permit, is it automatically endorsed for diving?

No. You must specify that you would like your permit to be endorsed for diving. There is no extra charge for this.

Does everyone in my dive group need a permit for taking lobster?

Yes. Each individual diver who intends to take lobster or crabs needs an individual permit. If diving in a group, each individuals permit number must be displayed on their tanks and on the surface floatation.

Does my diving permit cover the immediate members of my family as well?

No, diver permits are for the individual diver only.


Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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This is not the full law. Consult the Division of Marine Fishieries for further details. All persons are reminded that the statutes, code and regulations are the legal authorities.
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