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.