In an effort to boost the population and growth of lobster in the entire region, the Fisheries Department has brokered the observation and enactment of a Harmonized Closed Lobster Season with Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama, from Monday February 15 to Monday June 14, 2010.

During this time, no one in the region will be permitted to capture or be found in possession of lobster.

Fisheries Administrator Beverley Wade said that this is a plus and a first time for Belize that other countries are now observing Belize’s closed lobster season and adopting and enacting it simultaneously as their own.

Belize has been negotiating with the countries to impose a closed season throughout the region to stop the illegal harvesting of lobster in Belizean waters by foreign fishermen during the closed season, she said.

By adopting the closed season, the countries will help develop their industry and make monitoring of illegal harvesting easier.

With regional protection, legal fishermen will be able to harvest larger lobsters and more product.

Wade said a Regional Management Plan, based on Belize’s Comprehensive Management Plan, is a first for the other countries, which have never before imposed a closed season, but all have observed the benefits of successful lobster management in Belize.

The Fisheries Department has issued warnings to fishermen that all traps or any devices used to catch or capture lobsters must be removed from the sea before Monday February 15. Any traps found in the sea during the closed season will be pulled up and destroyed.

The Harmonized Closed Season is being enacted in collaboration with regional organizations such as the Central American Integration System (S.I.C.A.), the Organization of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector of Central America (OSPESCA) and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID).

The Reporter