Environmentalists are concerned about a new lobster pilot project. This pilot project is being implemented by the Belize Fisheries Department, Belize Hotel Association and the Belize Tourist Board. Hoteliers have signed a memorandum of understanding that would allow them to serve lobster during the closed season, from February 15th to June 14th.
The memorandum states the seventeen registered restaurants must purchase their lobster from the Belize Hotel Association who receive their stocks from accredited fishing cooperatives, at a non-refundable fee of three US dollars a pound. These sales will be subject to random inspections conducted by the Belize Fisheries Department. This lobster stock that was purchased before February 15th, cannot be resold, exchanged or traded for other purposes other than the Lobster Consumption Monitoring Project. Representatives from the Fisheries Department said that the objective of this lobster pilot project is to investigate if pre-purchased lobster stocks can sustain restaurant demands during the closed season. Environmentalist, however, are concerned that the pilot project might encourage the illegal sale of lobster.
Placencia villagers have petitioned the Fisheries Department to discourage the practice. Meanwhile reports reaching Love Fm say that fishermen in Belize City were found selling lobster illegally. The Memorandum of understanding further states that the Closed Season Consumption Project will be terminated in the event of any violation with prepaid stocks being confiscated by the Fisheries Department. (from Love FM)
#65473 - 03/28/0303:50 PMRe: Lobster Pilot Project Raises Concern
a comment i received... ====== I should have explained (I thought everyone already knew) that the lobster for this pilot project came from existing stocks taken during the legal lobster season.
The lobster season will still be closed for all fisherman as always.
The stocks for the participants were purchased in advance and tagged and stored for only that use. These are checked by the fisheries officials and well as the stocks in the restaurants.
These same lobster tails would have been exported otherwise. No extra lobster was caught, and I am sure that the people pushing this project would not have had it any other way.
I know from personal knowledge that there was no favoritism playing in this project, indeed a lot of convincing over a period of about two years by parties who believed that the time was right to try this.
#65474 - 03/28/0304:13 PMRe: Lobster Pilot Project Raises Concern
The part I'm having trouble with, is believing that there won't be any more lobster taken "in season" to cover off the "out of season" lobster. It would seem to me that the fishermen make more from the export market than the at home market regardless of whether they will be frozen for longer or eaten right away.
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?
#65477 - 03/28/0305:46 PMRe: Lobster Pilot Project Raises Concern
FISHERIES OFFICIAL RESPONDS TO CONCERNS Earlier this week villagers from coastal fisheries communities called Love FM's Morning Show protesting what they call the illegal sale of lobster during closed season. Love FM spoke with officials from the Fisheries Department who explained the details of the closed season lobster consumption project. James Esueto, Coordinator of the Ecosystems Management Unit of the Fisheries Department explains.
JAMES ESUETO:"I think the problem arises in that people have a lot of misinformation. This project was in the making for over two months before the season closed and one of the conditions was that members of the Belize Hotel Association would purchase the lobster before the season closed and then they would be distributing it to the hotels very closely monitored as they use the lobster during the closed season. In the Memorandum of Understanding there is a lot of commitment from the Belize Hotel Association because if any member violates the terms of agreement in the Memorandum of Understanding the project would be terminated immediately."
Esueto explained that any breech of the project would include a $5,000.00 fine against the Hotel Association. He elaborates on the agreement between the Fisheries Department and the Belize Hotel Association.
JAMES ESUETO:"That's right the lobster has to be bought before the closed season and also the whole membership was entitled to participate there was about 150 hotels and restaurants that were anxious to get into the programme but in the end it boiled down to 12 members. What we do we send our people to check on them every week and we tabulate how much lobster tails they have and we compare to how much pounds they have taken out from the bulk that was originally purchased and in case we find out they haven't out any lobster for this week and they have more lobster tails than they have last week then that means that they are in violation."
Officials from the Fisheries Department monitor lobster consumption at the different restaurants randomly on a weekly basis. Restaurants bought varying amounts from one hundred pounds to five hundred pounds. Twelve registered hotels bought some 2,800 pounds of lobster tails. According to the weekly Lobster Consumption Monitoring Project, three of the twelve hotels have finished their stock of lobster. They include Victoria House, Journey's End Resort and Rum Point Inn and cannot purchase or sell lobster products for the rest of the closed season. Esueto is seeking the assistance of the public in reporting illegal fishing or sales of lobster products during the closed season that lasts until June 14th.
#65478 - 03/29/0310:28 AMRe: Lobster Pilot Project Raises Concern
Hi Marty! Just a quick question, much as I love lobster, won't more catches prior to the deadline still negate the idea of conservation? Or, has the lobster population regained sufficiently to make it sustainable? Thank you.
#65479 - 03/29/0312:50 PMRe: Lobster Pilot Project Raises Concern
Marie: this program has no effect on the amount of lobster harvested. There is no quota on the amount that can be harvested. The only restrictions are the size and the dates of the season, June 15 - Feb 15. The lobster in question would be lobster that would be exported if not used in this program. It is unfortunate that someone in the US or Europe can eat Belizean lobster between Feb and June, but tourists cannot eat it in Belize because some fishermen and restaurants do not care enough to obey the laws. Just another example of short term greed.
PS: let's not be too ctitical of these fishermen and restaurants. They are probably just like some on this board, they know best what laws need to be broken. :p
#65480 - 03/29/0301:07 PMRe: Lobster Pilot Project Raises Concern
One of the major faults with the program and one that I think actually defeats the purpose and will in effect be a conservation issue and cause the program to fail is the price. Restaurants pay about $20 Belize to buy from the fishermen durning the season. The price under the program is about $33 Belize ( those are per pound prices ). This, in effect, makes the "black market" and the illegal harvesting and selling the lobster more attractive.
I guess this is the way the Belize Goverment and Tourist Board look at it. Let's spend alot of money to advertise to get tourists to come to Belize. But if they want to eat Belize lobster between Feb 15 and June 15, they need to stay home and eat it or maybe we will let them have it here for 60% increase in cost. :rolleyes: