SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- A small Canadian seaside town in New Brunswick has been warned lobsters that wash ashore cannot be eaten because they weren't caught under license.
After an Atlantic storm Saturday, the crustaceans began washing ashore at Petit-Rocher on the northeastern coast and word spread quickly, the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal reported.
However, John St.-Coeur, a spokesman for the federal Fisheries and Oceans ministry, issued a statement warning beachcombers they were breaking the law that says lobster can only be taken in traps by licensed fishermen during open season. Anyone else collecting lobsters could be fined $100,000, he said.
By Tuesday afternoon, the shore was mostly clear of lobsters and Mayor Pierre Godin said as many as 1,000 people -- including him -- had enjoyed many lobster meals since the weekend.
He dismissed the federal warning, saying residents had benefited from washed-up seafood for centuries.
"If it's illegal, they are going to have to make a very, very big prison for us all," he told the newspaper.