JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture is utilizing cutting edge technology to protect and ensure the replenishment of the country’s lobster stock.
Under the Lobster Casita Project, man-made lobster shelters called condominiums are placed on the sea bed to increase the underdeveloped lobsters’ chances of survival to maturity. The project will provide for the redevelopment of the stock, and give small scale fisher folk the opportunity to make a better living from the sale of mature lobsters.
Senior Fisheries Officer in the Ministry, Ian Jones, tells JIS News that the project, which started in 2005, was borne out of a larger initiative that also focussed on ornamental fish and a marketing component for oysters.
“In 2005, we had the opportunity to set up the Lobster Casita plan. We saw it as a very welcome move because it tackled a number of the issues on the ground,” he tells JIS News.
The plan, he outlines, “deals with responses to overall global decline in lobster catches, which we have noticed. There were also concerns about the high level of undersized lobsters being harvested and environmental concerns (in terms) of hurricanes, pollution and so on. So, we saw it fit to have some conservation measure, which led to the application of this technology.”
The condominiums are made of regular concrete blocks set in a simple arrangement, which is preferred by lobsters. Each condominium is two tiers, which is equivalent to 16 concrete blocks.
The condominiums provide shelter for young lobsters and allow researchers to track the volume of juveniles in coastal areas. A number of these mechanisms have already been deployed in an effort to record vital data.
“Lobsters have a very interesting life cycle. They tend to aggregate and when they aggregate, they stay together for a while in their juvenile stage. We have found these lobster condominiums very helpful in keeping them together and protected and we are able to do proper monitoring and surveillance in these areas,” Mr. Jones points out.
He notes that the condominiums are best suited for shallow water as this is the place where the first lifecycle of lobsters begin. “Generally, the areas that are suitable are ones which have a lot of mangrove cover as well as sea grass beds,” Mr. Jones points out.
The project is operating as a pilot in a number of parishes including Portland and Hanover and the Fisheries Division is training persons, who will later train fisher folks on how to utilize the technology.
In the meantime, Mr. Jones notes that: “We are working to refine how we lay them (condominiums) because we are putting them under water and the effects of currents and storm surges can shift them so we are trying to see if we can modify them and have something more stable.”
“If this project is to be applied island wide,” he continues “we need something that is replicable and something that is economically viable.”
He says that the Fisheries Division will be applying the technology to costal waters across Jamaica to ensure that lobsters are harvested in a suitable manner.

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