Heavy Penalties for Stockpiling Lobster


Persons and businesses found stockpiling lobster for the annual closed season, from April to June, will face heavy penalties, when the new Fisheries Act comes into effect.
This was revealed by Acting Director of the Marine Branch of the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Ian Jones, in an interview with JIS News.
“Following imminent passage of the new Fisheries Act into law, there will be a three-week grace period leading up to the closed season. During the grace period, all lobster stocks must be used up. Once the closed season starts, lobsters found will be confiscated or heavy fines imposed,” said Mr. Jones.
The new Fisheries Act is expected to be passed into law during the current fiscal year.
The stipulations under the old Act, which allowed fishers, restaurateurs and hoteliers to stockpile, were ineffective, leading to over-fishing, as persons sought to store enough lobsters to take them through the closed season. This resulted in not only over-fishing, but little regard for size, and many juvenile lobsters were caught. Persons were then coerced into buying the entire stock, inclusive of juveniles, he explained.
“The practice of over-fishing significantly reduced the benefits of a closed season and became more harmful to the lobster population,” Mr. Jones pointed out, adding that another practice is maintaining lobster crawls, “whereby unscrupulous fishers would keep lobsters alive in traps in the sea, to be sold as opportunities arose.”
To eliminate these practices, stocks are to be disallowed in the closed season under the new Act. Mr. Jones said the same had been done successfully for conch.
He said the Fisheries Division would be calling on conscientious citizens and non-governmental organisations to assist in reporting breaches during the closed season, in order that the rules may be enforced and the lobsters be given a chance to breed and replenish for the benefit of the entire industry.
The closed season for lobster lasts from April 1 to June 30 each year.

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