Scituate Lobster Industry Has SHS Connections

Scituate Harbor is the home port for local lobster boats like Never Enough

David Stanley

Scituate Harbor is the home port for local lobster boats like Never Enough

David Stanley, Staff Writer

Scituate, Massachusetts, is very popular when it comes to fresh seafood. Many restaurants on the South Shore are supplied with seafood from local businesses. Lobstermen along the South Shore hold an outstanding reputation for bringing in delicious seafood for over 150 years, and several of these lobstermen have a connection to Scituate High School.

Scituate lobsterman Joseph Norton, whose children Tessa and Peter attend Scituate High School, has been in the seafood business for 34 years. Norton bought Mullaney’s, the local fish market in Scituate, MA.

“I bought it from Chris Mullaney, who ran it with help of his children, and now I run it with help of my children and nephews, nieces, and other members of my family,” Norton said. Mullaney’s has been in the fresh seafood business for 40 years since 1980, with two storefronts in Scituate and Cohasset.

Owning such a business can be a grueling job. Norton explained his daily routine: “Get up at 4:30 in the morning to drive the Mullaney’s truck to Boston and unload the local catch at the fish pier in Boston.” He then returns to the South Shore to deliver seafood and finish the paperwork. This routine allows him to run his successful business, supplying seafood to many restaurants in Scituate and around the South Shore. 

Following regulations can be challenging for any business; however, in the fishing industry regulations must be strictly followed. Norton shared, “It depends on their license, but most lobstermen can only catch 800 trap limit, and there are limits on the size of the lobsters they catch.” Norton cited the Discard Regulations as some of the most frustrating–fish that are caught but must be discarded because they are undersized or a specific species. Although he believes it can be wasteful, he still acknowledges the rule and continues to obey it.

As a family-run business, Norton enjoys getting his family involved. SHS junior Peter Norton has worked for his father at Mullaney’s since he was in 8th grade. Even before that, he always went into Boston with his father in the truck. Being a high school student, Peter doesn’t get as many hours as his father, but he tries to work whenever he can. Typically, Peter works at Mullaney’s in Scituate, cleaning and packaging the fish to sell to the local customers. However, whenever he gets the chance to go lobster fishing early in the morning, he gladly accepts. Peter says he is always excited to see the scenery, commenting that “it’s always awesome.”

Claiming he has minimal knowledge about the regulations, Peter does believe they are “immense.” As Mullaney’s is a family business, Peter is concerned with “global warming and the environment drastically changing.” Peter said, “I feel that could affect us, but I hope we will grow with it.” Being one of the most successful seafood markets along the South Shore, Mullaney’s and the Norton Family both have a good reputation for fresh seafood and knowledgeable staff.

2001 SHS graduate Jonathan Mason also recognized his love for fishing when he was a kid. Spending time with his dad, George Mason, while he was lobstering, Jonathan was inspired to become a full-time lobster fisherman. Saying school “was never a really big thing for me,” Mason opted to launch his fishing career early and bought his first lobster boat when he was 25-years-old. Named after his sister, Mason’s first boat, Isabelle Rose, was recently replaced when he bought a 38-foot lobster boat named Never Enough.

Mason has a similar wake-up time to Norton: around 3:30-4:00 AM. Mason explained, “Yeah, you wake up, you get down there–I try to get the stuff prepared. It’s a repetition of the same thing 400 times.”  During his career, Mason has sold fresh lobster to multiple local spots, including The Fairview restaurant in Marshfield and Superior Lobster & Seafood in Humarock, MA. Mason has employed numerous SHS graduates over the years, including his brother, Frankie Ragge, who graduated from SHS in 2016. 

When it comes to lobster fishing, Mason shared one of his fondest memories: “One day bringing in traps for the year, me and two of my friends went out together. It was February, but the weather was unbelievably nice. We stacked 130 traps on a boat that shouldn’t have had more than 80 on it. Unfortunately, it was the last day we were all together. My friend ended up passing away a couple of days later. So that day will always stick out as one of the best I’ve had.” 

When it comes to getting “good catches,” Mason eluded to the tough competition among lobstermen: “Yeah, it’s more of a turf war. They want to be in the spots that you’re in. Money competition is not so much a thing,” he explained. 

Regarding regulations, Mason has a trap limit of 800, along with certain banned areas to conserve aquatic species. Although these regulations can be complicated, Mason and other lobstermen across the South Shore still provide fresh seafood for eager customers and enjoy their time out on the water.