Time to consume lobster stocks as closed season approaches, chief fisheries officer reminds residents

Chief Fisheries Officer Ian Horsford is putting seafood lovers and stakeholders
on notice that another closed season for certain types seafood is just about a
week away.

A much-loved delicacy, the Caribbean Spiny Lobster, will enter its closed
season on May 1, and this will run until June 30.

And while some may be disappointed that they will not be able to enjoy this
delicacy, Horsford notes that Antigua and Barbuda has the shortest closed
season in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Elsewhere, countries adhere to the minimum four-month closed season
recommended by the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission.
He says the OECS Model Harmonized Fisheries Legislation and the St. George’s
Declaration on Spiny Lobster also recommend a four-month closed season for
the Caribbean Spiny Lobster.

Therefore, given that Antigua and Barbuda has only a two-month closed
season, Horsford says the public should refrain from harvesting, buying,
trading, and eating lobster during this period, especially since the closed
season represents the peak of its spawning period.

Horsford notes that it is illegal for anyone to fish for, take, place for sale,
purchase or have in their possession any Caribbean Spiny Lobster during the
closed season –even if a person had the lobster in his refrigerator or freezer
before that time.

Therefore, residents should seek to consume the lobster they have in stock
before the commencement of the closed season.

Accordingly, hoteliers, street vendors, and restaurateurs should already have
started to rid their inventory of Caribbean Spiny Lobster, he says.
Persons or businesses caught contravening the closed season commit an
offence under the Fisheries Regulations, 2013 and are liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000.

Horsford is encouraging persons to report violations to the Fisheries Division
at 462-1372 or 462-6106 or email fisheriesantigua@gmail.com or

The Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force Coast Guard can also be reached at
462-3206 or 462-2841 to report violators.

Officials say that all information provided will be treated in the strictest