JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture’s Fisheries Division has reported greater compliance with the closed season for lobster this year, which was observed from April 1 to June 30.
Fisheries Officer, Richard Kelly, told JIS News that from general observation and inspections carried out, it would appear that more food establishments were adhering to the closed season with many of them no longer storing lobsters at all during the prohibition period.
He added that some hotels have stated that they actually saved money during the period, as the cost of the delicacy rose significantly during the closed season.
Mr. Kelly credited the increased compliance to the Division’s public education efforts over the past few years to inform institutions and individuals about the necessity of having the restricted period.
The closed season for the farming of lobster is observed annually as provided for under the Fishing Industry Act 1975 and the Fishing Industry Regulations 1976. It is aimed at reducing fishing pressure on lobster resources and allowing the lobster population to reproduce without human interference.
During this time, it is illegal to harvest, sell, or buy lobsters unless otherwise instructed by the Director of Fisheries, Mr. Kelly informed JIS News.
Before the commencement of the season, entities are reminded to submit a declaration to the Fisheries Division indicating the quantity of lobsters in their possession. On receipt of this declaration, the Division carries out inspections to verify the quantities submitted, and then issues a Certificate of Lobster in Storage to the entity.
Mr. Kelly indicated that 60 declarations were made with 77 inspections carried out by the Fisheries Division in the run up to and during the closed season.
Out of the 60 declarations, the majority were from Westmoreland, St. Ann and Kingston. This figure represents a 32 per cent decline in declarations from last year, he said, explaining that this could be attributed to lobster not being bought in previous quantities.
During the closed season, the Fisheries Division spearheads enforcement activities, which include inspections by fisheries personnel and enforcement officers from collaborating agencies namely, the Marine Police, Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).Island wide inspections are done on land and sea, and hotels, restaurants, shops and other entities suspected of having lobsters are checked.
Mr. Kelly pointed out however, that lack of resources had curtailed the number of patrols that could be carried out during the period, making it difficult to adequately monitor the entire island.
Despite greater compliance with the restricted period, the Fisheries Officer has recommended prohibiting the possession of lobster during the closed season to negate the need for declarations and reduce pressure on fishing before the start of the season.
In addition, he said, there should be a continued education campaign to increase public awareness of the importance of the lobster closed-season.
He noted that public and private sector partnerships were integral in achieving success in protecting the country’s marine resources and commended hotels such as the Ritz Carlton, Renaissance Jamaica Grande, Hedonism II and III, Breezes Montego Bay and Couples Negril for their support during the 2003 lobster closed-season.

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