Jan 22, 2007

Fisheries Department Officials say that this season's lobster catch may not exceed that of last year's. This may be attributed to many factors that hamper the growth of this marine commodity. This morning Love News spoke with Fisheries Administrator, Beverly Wade who said they have noticed a decline in amounts of lobster and they are working to find out what the affecting factors are.

Beverly Wade: Fisheries Administrator

We saw a decrease in the catch for lobster but one of the things that you have to recognize with wild stocks is that they are variation with production over the years so what we are paying close attention to this year is the productivity and to see if there is really a trend. We don't see it as something that is disastrous or significant enough. It's not like there is a big crash in the stock. It is caused for us to look in to it and
it is caused for us to look in to what could have caused that trend. What happen with wild fisheries stock is that you will notice that over the years that there is little variation in productivity and a lot of the time is based a lot on environmental conditions that are out there. There is a need for us at the Fisheries Department to work closely with the industry to look at it and to see if there is a trend developing and to then make recommendations as to how we would approach it if there is such a trend of a constant decline."

Wade says the close season serves as a management measure to ensure the stock is not severely affected.

Beverly Wade: Fisheries Administrator

What the Fisheries Department would like to swing across to the public is that the close season is really one of the management levels that we up in place to ensure sustainability of the lobster resource in Belize and so we would want the public to respect that and to cooperate with the authorities in not purchasing lobster out of season because the illegal fishing of lobster during the close season really have an effect an impact on the health of the stock and it is that period that we close to get he lobsters a break to spawn and to replenish the stock that we exploit on a regular basis."

Wade also says that since conch and lobster are the two main export commodities they stress the enforcement of the fishing laws.

Beverly Wade: Fisheries Administrator

The Fsheries Department carries out annual monitoring and fulltime monitoring of lobsters and conchs primarily because among other species but we concentrate a lot on those two species because those are our two main economic earners and so we are aware of the decline and we will continue to monitor it. Fisheries Department has an Enforcement Unit which works in coordination with the National Coast Guard and also along with other enforcement agencies the Police Department, the Customs Department and we work very closely to ensure that the fisheries laws are not being broken and to also ensure that we continue to have a viable product."

Beverly Wade Fisheries Administrator at the Fisheries Department. In 2005 the Fishing Industry was estimated to contribute four percent for the national G-D-P.