Lobster Law 101

Boiling Lobsters Alive is Illegal…in the USA

Much ado was recently made about Switzerland banning boiling lobsters alive. The internet lit up with discussions about how to ethically cook a delicious lobster and whether or not lobsters feel pain. People love lobsters both alive and on a plate. For those who love them on a plate, there was plenty of outrage that a country would ban such a practice. Sources in Maine tell me there is no other way to prepare a lobster.

Switzerland is not the first to ban the practice. In fact, boiling lobsters alive has been outlawed in the United States since at least 1999.

No, I haven’t lost my mind.

This is probably news to you and you may be doubting what I write. The fact is though, New Zealand banned boiling lobsters alive (and cutting into them while alive) back in 1999. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to legally kill a lobster in New Zealand. Perhaps a humane suffocation? That’s besides the point though. The law reads that no live lobster shall be tossed into a boiling pot of water. And the big kicker: since it is illegal to boil a live lobster in New Zealand, it is therefore illegal to boil a live lobster in the USA.

The Lacey Act

Why does a New Zealand law have anything to do with the United States you ask? In 1900 the US passed the Lacey Act. It was a law meant to protect plants and wildlife, which it did. But it also eventually made it a federal crime to boil a live lobster. The Lacey Act reads it is a federal crime “to possess any fish or wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any State or in violation of any foreign law or Indian tribal law.”

“Taken” means killed. A restated version is “it is a federal crime to possess any wildlife killed in violation of any foreign law.” New Zealand law bans killing lobsters alive, therefore, the United States bans killing lobsters alive. Penalties range from $10,000 fines to 5 years in jail per violation. No sweat! And yes…people have been prosecuted under this law.

What’s the point?

No, you probably won’t have the feds kick down your door after a romantic dinner at the Red Lobster. I bring this point up to illustrate that the US government can use the laws of foreign countries to send you to jail or TAKE your assets. If that is the case, then why would you not consider using the laws of foreign countries to PROTECT your assets?

A number of countries have enacted laws that offer extra liability protection for people around the world. A couple of examples of some ways to get extra liability protection in those countries are through using offshore LLCs and offshore asset protection trusts. The LLC’s and trusts in these countries provide added protections that are not found in the U.S. Consider taking advantage of  some of these laws before the lobster police raid your home.

Colin Ley is an Offshore Asset Protection Trust attorney. He is the co-founder of the firm, LayRoots, along with his wife, Shreya Ley.