Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Fisheries firm on conch, lobster deadlines

Published:Wednesday | March 8, 2017 | 3:00 AMChristopher Serju
A vendor displays a nice catch of spiny lobster for sale in downtown Kingston.

The deadline for applications for licences to fish conch for the 2017-2018 season is Friday, and the Fisheries Division in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries will not be offering any extensions.

"The Licensing Authority WILL NOT BE ACCEPTING any application after March 10, 2017," it stated in a press advertisement on Wednesday, March 1. Applicants are urged to get in touch with their local fisheries officers as soon as possible.

Additionally, with the start of a new regime for the lobster industry going into effect when the season officially starts on July 1, the Fisheries Division has extended the application deadline to next Tuesday, March 14.

The main reason for the extension of the lobster season is to allow first applicants, especially, time to fully understand the new requirements, some of which were modelled on the longstanding conch regime.

"Because it's the first that we are doing this process, we're trying to take our time. We are trying to do it properly, as well as to give our stakeholders sufficient time to go through the process because we want to make sure it's quite transparent, as well as equitable, going forward," Commander Paul Wright, chief executive officer of the Fisheries Division, told The Gleaner.

Among the changes for the new lobster regime is the application fee of $125,000, which will be for a two-year period. During that period, sanctions for catching under-size and berried lobsters, as well as harvesting the crustacean during the annual close season, which runs from April 1-June 30, will be in place.

In addition to a valid fishing licence from the Fisheries Division, all fishers (lobster and conch) must have valid food handler's certification from the Ministry of Public Health. Another vital requirement is written authorisation from the Veterinary Services Division verifying that all the vessels meet hygiene standards under the Aquaculture, Inland and Marine Products and By-products (inspection and licensing) Act.