Ministry issues reminder of lobster close-season rules
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is reminding fishers and other business operators who offer lobster on their menu of the special rules that apply now that the spiny lobster close season is in effect.
A signed declaration (official letter) is mandatory for the any person or entity that wishes to have in their possession of spiny lobsters or parts thereof during the closed season which runs from April 1 to June 30.
This declaration, the Fisheries Division of the ministry explained in a print advertisement on Wednesday, March 27, should include the quantity in kilograms, a description – whether it is whole lobsters or tails only, etc. as well as the address where the spiny lobster or products is being sold. A fishery inspector will visit the location to verify the amount of lobster or lobster products in storage, for which he/she will issue a certificate of inspection.
Lobster in storage
The law provides that from April 1-21, all spiny lobster in possession or storage which has been declared to the licensing authority, may be legally sold, exported or processed. However, anyone found in possession of spiny lobster or its products come April 22 will be in breach of the law and liable to prosecution. For this reason restaurateurs, hotel operators and others who offer spiny lobster on their menu are urged to prudent in their purchases, to ensure that it is used up by the April 21 deadline.
However, licensed fishers who have in their possession large stocks of spiny lobsters/products which has been legally harvested and which they plan to sell, export or process, after the close season, must seek special permission for storage from the fisheries division by Saturday, April 15. The written application should:
- Describe the product being stored – whether whole lobsters, tails or meat.
- Include a declaration of intent that such spiny lobster or its products will be sold/exported processed at the end of the close season.
- State the name and address of the intended approved storage facility and this should be accompanied by a valid export licence, where applicably.
The applicant will have no access to the lobsters in storage until July 1, when a formal release from an approved or authorised storage facility is granted by the authorities.
Any spiny lobsters intentionally captured, such as in fishing gear, must be immediately returned to the ocean, free, alive and unharmed. The harvesting of spiny lobsters carrying eggs (berried lobsters) and/or spiny lobsters which have not reached the minimum size of 7.62 centimetres (3 inches) when measured from the eyes to the end of the carapace (back, not including the tail) is illegal throughout all of the year.