Fishermen all over Belize got out of bed very early today to go hunting for the mouth-watering delicacy, the Caribbean spiny lobster, as the official opening day for lobster fishing got underway today, June 15, and will remain open until February 15, 2007.
Tourists and locals will now be able to enjoy a variety of delicious lobster dishes cooked in all restaurants or at home instead of only the select few restaurants which are provided with licenses to serve lobster throughout the year.
Last year’s first two days of open season netted San Pedro fishermen a whopping 5,819 pounds of lobster tails, which were caught and sold to the Caribeña Coop by 45 fishing boats. Compared to the 2004 opening day, last year’s catch was larger by a total of 1,421 pounds (total 2004 catch for two days was 4,398), and we will be watching the figures close this year to see if the seasons’ hauls keep getting better.
The lobster catch has steadily climbed each passing year since Hurricane Keith wrecked damage to the fishing grounds back in October 2000. One year after Keith, fishermen were only able to catch 1,633 pounds of lobster during the first two days of open season. The numbers have steadily climbed each year after the damaging effects of Keith to the marine environment near the island, but the seasons have still been very slow compared to big hauls in previous years (such as in 1999, with more than 10,000 pounds caught).
At $20 per pound paid out to the fishermen for the first two days during opening season 2005, Caribeña Cooperative dished out a whopping $116,380 in cash. Not bad for two days work, and these numbers do not reflect the other big figures sold to local restaurants, which pay up to $25 per pound.
Before opening day every year, lobster season is closed for six months, in order to allow the crustacean time to reproduce their numbers during their breeding season. The open season runs from the 15th of June to the 15th of February every year.