The annual three-month lobster season opens on Friday, Dec. 1, and the Department of Environment is reminding the public to familiarize themselves with the catch limits.
“The open season for lobster is designed to give people a chance to recreationally harvest these delicious marine crustaceans in a sustainable way,” said DoE Senior Research Officer John Bothwell in a government press release. “Our goal is a sustainable recreational fishery for lobsters not just this season, but for many seasons in the future as well.”
During the open season for lobster, which runs from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28, it is legal to take only spiny lobsters from Cayman Islands waters, but only within the legal/permissible limits. The bag limit is three lobsters per person per day or six per boat per day, whichever is less. The minimum size is a 6-inch tail length.
The Department of Environment says no lobsters can be taken from Marine Protected Areas, such as Marine Parks, Replenishment Zones, or Environmental Zones. The department is also reminding the public that gloves should not be worn while snorkeling, and no lobsters (or any marine life other than lionfish) can be taken while scuba diving.
“We also strongly urge persons not to support poaching,” said Mr. Bothwell. “Don’t buy lobster from people who are over the limit during the open season. It is a crime and should be reported to authorities.”
Conch season still open
Conch and whelk season opened last month, and will continue until the end of April.
The limit for conch is five per person per day or 10 per boat per day, whichever is less, and only one queen conch may be taken.
The limit for whelks is two-and-a-half gallons in the shell or two-and-a-half pounds of processed whelks per person per day. Chitons, periwinkles and bleeding teeth may not be taken at any time.
The DoE also warned that echinoderms, which include starfish, sea eggs/urchins, sea cucumbers and sand dollars, may not be taken from Cayman Islands waters at any time.
Anyone who suspects poaching of conch, whelk or lobster is occurring can call 911 for immediate response, or DoE enforcement officers directly at 916-4271 in Grand Cayman, 926-0136 in Cayman Brac, and 925-0185 in Little Cayman.
The DoE says information for investigation, for example, if a restaurant is buying illegal lobster, conch or whelk, or details who is selling it, can be reported anonymously to Cayman Crime Stoppers, by calling 800-TIPS.