Lobster Anyone?

Spiny Lobsters are by far the number one choice of seafood when you want to experience the culture and cuisine of the Bahamas. Nothing beats a great surf and turf dinner at a fine dining restaurant. If you are on a budget you can choose from a variety of scrumptious options such as deep fried and breaded (cracked) lobster, lobster salad or lobster bisque. Whatever your palate likes, lobster is a must have when you are in the Bahamas. Lobsters are also a favorite catch of many visitors. Nothing beats the thrill of capturing one of these creatures on a visit to the Bahamas. Lobsters are also a favorite target catch for local fishermen. Each year Bahamian fishermen enjoy eight months of lobster fishing, which provides huge financial benefits. In fact, in many islands this is the main income generation for many Bahamian families. Bahamian fishermen put a lot of time and resources in making artificial habitats to attract these creatures. In fact, data from the Department of Marine Resources indicates that the lobster fishery is by far the top fishery among all Bahamian marine resources, generating millions of dollars per year in exports.

However, because of their high commercial value, there are threats affecting healthy lobster populations. One of them is the illegal capture of juvenile lobsters. In 2009, Friends of the Environment developed the ‘Size Matters Campaign’ to inspire fishermen to care for and protect local lobster populations. Recently with support from international conservation organizations such as the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Program (GEF-SGP), World Wildlife Fund-US and the Nature Conservancy, Sustainable Catch Workshops were held in the month of July in Abaco fishing communities. Fishermen were updated on international standards and current local and national initiatives to protect the country’s lobster populations.

Now that the fishermen are on board an up to date, our next step is to launch a sustainable menu pledge program in local Abaco restaurants. Restaurants will be asked to make a pledge to offer sustainable menu items to protect local marine resources.

On your next visit to the Bahamas please follow these tips and help us protect our local resources:

Conservation Tips:

  1. Ask the chef at your favorite Bahamian restaurant to only cook lobsters that were caught during the open season and had tails that measured a minimum of 5 ½ inches.
  2. Recommend restaurants to your friends that adhere to the local fisheries laws and regulations and that have voluntarily implemented sustainable fishing practices.
  3. Only fish what you intend to eat while on your visit.

If you are catching your own spiny lobster remember… SIZE MATTERS!

Regulations Governing Spiny Lobsters for Non-Bahamians

BAG LIMITS: Vessels can have up to 10 lobsters at any one time per vessel.

SIZE LIMITS: Lobsters should be measured whole and live before capture. Carapace (or jackets) of lobsters must measure a minimum of 3Ÿ inches and tails must measure a minimum of 5½ inches.

SPEAR FISHING: Visitors are limited to line and pole fishing only. A permit must be obtained from the Department of Marine Resources for any visitor wishing to use an Hawaiian sling or pole in Bahamian waters.

OPEN SEASON DATES: August 1 – March 31 (There is no mini season in July for lobster fishing.)

For more information, please contact d’Shan Maycock, Education Officer and Size Matters! Campaign Manager by email at dmaycock@friendsoftheenvironment.org or telephone her at  (242) 367-2721. To reach the Department of Marine Resources, telephone (242) 367-3482 or (242) 393-1777. For more information on Friends of the Environment, visit www.friendsoftheenvironment.org or telephone (242) 367-2721.

d’Shan Maycock, Education Officer
Friends of the Environment