Cayman's lobster season has ended.

Cayman’s annual three-month lobster season ended Wednesday, Feb. 28. The closed season runs from March 1 to Nov. 30.

During the closed season, it is illegal to take, purchase, receive or possess lobster originating from Cayman Islands waters, the Department of Environment warns.

“The closed season is designed to give the local lobster population a break from harvesting during the times of year when they reproduce the most,” said DoE Senior Research Officer John Bothwell. “We urge persons not to support poaching. Don’t buy lobsters from people during the closed season – it’s a crime and should be reported to the authorities.”

The department also reminded the public of other fishery rules which apply to all individuals and businesses.

Sharks, rays, grouper

It is illegal to take sharks and rays from Cayman Islands waters at any time.

For Nassau grouper, the closed season is Dec. 1 through April 30. Anyone who takes, purchases, receives, offers for sale, exchange or donation, or possesses, or permits another person to take, Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) from Cayman Islands waters during the closed season commits an offense.

The DoE advised that sharks, rays and Nassau grouper (during closed season) should be released alive if accidentally caught, even if they are injured during catching. For sharks, simply cut the line as close to the hook as is safe.

Using circle hooks when fishing makes releasing undersized fish, or protected species like Nassau grouper, stingrays or sharks, easier as they are unlikely to be gut hooked, the DoE stated.

The department pointed out that having a release rig ready to use when fishing in more than 75 feet of water means undersized, undesirable or protected species (like Nassau grouper) can be easily released, as their swim bladders will recompress by using the release rig.

Conch

The open season for conch is Nov. 1 through April 30. The bag limit is five per person, or 10 per boat per day, whichever is less.

Only queen conch (Strombus gigas; also known as a pink conch or broadleaf conch) may be taken.

In any one day, anyone who takes, purchases, receives, offers for sale, exchange or donation, or possesses, or permits another person to take, more than five conch from Cayman Islands waters, commits an offense.

Whelk

The open season for whelk is Nov. 1 through April 30. The bag limit is 2.5 gallons in the shell, or 2.5 pounds of processed whelks per person per day.

In any one day, anyone who takes, purchases, receives, offers for sale, exchange or donation, or possesses, or permits another person to take, more than 2.5 gallons in the shell, or 2.5 pounds of processed whelks from Cayman Islands waters commits an offense.

Chitons, periwinkles and bleeding teeth may not be taken at any time.

Echinoderms, including starfish, sea eggs/urchins, sea cucumbers and sand dollars, may not be taken from Cayman Islands waters at any time.

The Department of Environment urges anyone who suspects poaching to call 911, or DoE enforcement officers directly on the following numbers: Grand Cayman, 916-4271; Cayman Brac, 926-0136; or Little Cayman, 925-0185.

National Conservation Law brochures can be downloaded from www.doe.ky/marine/marine-parks. For more information on all of the closed seasons and other conservation rules, contact the DoE on 949-8469 or email [email protected]

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