The 2015/16 Lobster Season will officially come to an open on Monday, June 15th. As regulated by the Belize Fisheries Department under the Fisheries Act of Belize, the consumption and harvesting of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus Argus) is allowed from June 15 to February 14. During this time, residents and visitors, especially along the coastal communities will indulge in their favorite lobster dishes.
Furthermore, the Fisheries Department will be closely monitoring the lobster fishing season for undersized species. Lobster tails must weigh four ounces or more to be considered legal for consumption. In the case of the whole lobster, the vernier caliper (from center of eye to the starting of the tail) carapace must measure three inches or more. Any fishermen caught with undersized lobsters will be prosecuted and their catch will be confiscated. Fishermen harvesting undersized lobster will face $500 fine and other penalties depending on the level of the offence. Individuals or restaurants with lobster below the minimum prescribed sizes will be charged for being in possession of undersize lobster. The charge carries a fine of around $20 for each undersized tail or whole lobster.
Aha, those lovely crustaceans! June 15th marks the official opening of the 2015 Lobster Season . For many of us Belizeans and visitors to our jewel, especially around our coastal communities, grilled lobster, lobster kebabs, lobster dip or a lobster ceviche and even lobster ice cream is something they look forward to from June 15th to February 14th. There is no need to punish those taste buds any longer, as the Fisheries Department has officially declared the 2015/2016 Lobster Season open yesterday June 15th. Scientifically known as Panulirus Argus, the Caribbean Spiny Lobster is the only lobster that is regulated in Belize.
Because lobster, like conch, is considered commercial species, a fisherman’s license is needed to engaging in the catching of Caribbean Spiny Lobster.
While the season is open, the Fishery Department will still be monitoring for undersize lobster. To crack down on the catching of undersized lobster, the Fisheries Department will be using two ways to determine the lobster size; one for whole lobster and the other for the tail only. In the case of the whole lobster, Hall explained that the vernier caliper (from center of eye to the starting of the tail) carapace must measure three inches or more. When it’s only lobster tails, it must weigh four ounces or more to be considered legal for consumption.
“Holders (including restaurants) of lobster below the legal size, if caught, can be charged for being in possession of undersize lobster. That charge carries a fine of up to $500 and a penalty. The penalty depends on the magistrate, but ranges between $20 and $30 for each undersize tail or whole lobster,” explained Hall. A similar charge, fine and penalty apply for being in possession of lobster out of season.
Most of the Belize lobster product is exported to United States of America. It contributes tens of millions of dollars to our Belizean economy.
Follow the different LOBSTER FESTIVALS to be held starting this coming weekend in Placencia and following with San Pedro and Caye Caulker. Enjoy!
Photos: Nestor Rivero Jun 15 (San Pedro fisher folk)