After a fruitful few months of lobster fishing, the Belize Fisheries Department has now declared that starting February 15th, the season will be over. Â To allow the lobster population time to recover as part of the departmentÂs marine management, fishery officials will ban any lobster catches from mid February until June 14th, when the fishing season opens again and residents can once again catch this delicious delicacy.
Many of those living in Belize make their living from fishing, and a variety of fishing options are open to them throughout the year. Â For the past eight months, lobster fishing has been particularly popular as whole groups of vessels caught as many of the tasty crustaceans as possible. Â However, the close of the season means that not only does active fishing have to stop, but also all lobster pots must be removed. Â Failure to comply with the legislation means that people can be prosecuted for breaking Regulation 3 (1) (b) of the Fisheries Regulations as documented in Chapter 210 of the Subsidiary Laws of Belize R.E. 2003.
For those considering leaving their lobster traps up, the Belize Fisheries Department has been quick to warn that this is against the law and that its Enforcement Unit will be looking out for such negligence. Â From February 15th, any traps found deployed will immediately be removed and the owners subject to prosecution via the courts.
For many, the end of the lobster season may be disappointing, but it is important to remember that having a break in fishing is vital for stocks to repopulate. Â Otherwise, numbers will dwindle on a downwards spiral, resulting in fewer fishermen getting the hauls they are used to. Â It also means that the marine environment, as a whole, can be carefully managed by the Fisheries Department. Â This allows fishing throughout the year to prosper and also ensures that tourists to the island who come specifically for diving can continue to boost the economy with their money while not being disappointed by the dwindling marine life.
Over the next four months, officials from the Belize Fisheries Department have asked that people are vigilant in upholding the law and to make certain that lobster fishing does not occur. Â Members of the public are asked to report lobster pots that are still deployed, helping to ensure the health of BelizeÂs beautiful and productive seas.