SICA Countries initiate the ninth regional closed season for the Caribbean Spiny Lobster
For the ninth consecutive year, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Dominican Republic continue to implement a harmonized closed season for the Spiny Lobster in Caribbean waters.
This close season applies to the period 15th of February to the 14th of June in Belize and from 1st March to 30th June in the other countries. The harmonized closure of the Spiny Lobster fishing season is in accordance with the OSP-02-09 regulation for the Regional Management of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) fishery, approved by the competent Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers of SICA. The closed season seeks to protect lobsters during their reproduction period to enable long-term sustainability of the fishery which supports important economic and social benefits to the population of the SICA region.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Immigration, through the Belize Fisheries Department, is the competent Authority for the implementation of this regional regulation in Belize.
Lobster Season is now CLOSED in Belize, as of today, February 15th, 2018 until June 14th, 2018. The harmonized closed season of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster seeks to protect lobsters during their reproductive season to ensure long-term sustainability of this vital fishery.
Any person found in possession of lobster during the closed season will be prosecuted in accordance with Section 3(1)(b) of the Fisheries Regulation, Chapter 210 of the Subsidiary Laws of Belize Revised Edition 2000-2003.
Please report any illegal fisheries activity to The Fisheries Department by calling 224-4552 or emailing [email protected]
The Lobster Season is closed which means that no one should be in possession of any lobster in Belize, meaning no restaurants, hotels, or any public place that sells; even in the domestic homes, no one should be in possession of lobster. If you have it now, we advise you to find a way to get rid of it. Because the law is strict and it specifies that possession is illegal and there are fines for that,” said The Belize Fisheries Department, Fisheries Officer, Ramon Carcamo. He stated that the penalty for the possession of lobster starts from $500 dollars or up to two years imprisonment.
Carcamo also mentioned the importance of the closing of the lobster season. “The approach that the global community has and even the Fisheries Department here in Belize is to protect these species especially during the reproductive season. It is a period of time that these species reproduce and do all their biological activity that help them to recuperate strengthen and recover the stocks. And so that is important for them to be protected because they are susceptible and can easily be caught which will affect in their reproductive cycle,” he said.
According to Carcamo, the production of lobster has increased and this year benefiting the country in various aspects. “Lobster production has increased. We are harvesting the lobster tails. On average it is about four hundred thousand pounds of lobster tail harvested in the season with a value of twelve million dollars. We are now also harvesting whole lobster, which is another category, another version of commodity with added value. Approximately another four hundred thousand pounds was harvested which is about six million dollars harvested. You see now we are about nine hundred thousand pounds of lobster that has resulted from the good management of the Fisheries Department, the enforcement, the monitoring, and the collaboration we have had with other co-managers and N.G.O.s. The tourism major contributor to the lobster industry as it has added value through its local consumption. Lobster fishing continues to be the livelihood for many Belizeans and they are highly dependent on it. The Government recognizes this and puts a lot of effort here in Belize to manage the lobster stock.”