Jeremie Saunders, Senior Department of Marine Resources Supervisor on Abaco, urges craw-fishermen to follow the laws regarding the spiny lobster season in The Bahamas as we near the start of the 2016/17 season.
Mr. Saunders said he has recently had to deal with a number of crawfish traps that have been left in the water after the season closed.
As of July 12 he said that he had only one application to trap lobsters for this upcoming lobster season, and as the season closes no one has permission to have lobster traps in the water.
“The main reason behind the law is that when lobsters go in they can’t get out, unlike the condos which allow the lobster to walk in and walk out; lobster traps are different because when they go in they cannot get out,” he said.
“If nobody is working them during the offseason, which they should not be doing, the lobsters will die,” he said. “During the beginning of July I broke open about twenty traps – I know I inspected about thirty to forty – and I noticed that they all had lobsters. Now some had the sides pulled off so that lobsters would not be trapped, perhaps the fishermen just didn’t want to take them out of the water.”
Mr. Saunders shared photos and videos of what happens to a lobster that is trapped for too long, noting that they get covered over in algae, become lethargic and eventually die.
He said that if a fisherman runs into some issue such as bad weather, or mechanical issues and they are unable to take their traps out of the water they should inform the Department of Marine Resources and they will work with the fishermen.
Recently there has been a stir created by a flyer released by Baker’s Bay showing a schedule of events which includes a “Lobster Opening Weekend” event with the dates Friday, July 29 to Monday, August 1.
Mr. Saunders said “When I saw the flyer I called one of the senior executives of Baker’s Bay and spoke to him about it. He reassured me that he will make it a point to advise the owners, guests and employees that while they may be celebrating the opening of the lobster season, the harvesting of lobsters cannot and should not start until Monday, August 1.”
He added that “the company is free to print their flyer with those dates, but it will be sad if some guests misread the flyer and they are caught on Saturday catching lobsters, because they will be arrested.”
“I’m not saying people will be going out there seeking to break the law, but definitely that weekend I will be out there patrolling as there may be some who misread that flyer and maybe think that the season starts Friday.”
Mr. Saunders noted that in Florida they have a mini season before the regular commercial season which allows residents to go and get lobster before the season begins; however, there is no mini season in The Bahamas.
“I remind all fishermen, and anyone who goes after crawfish the season is closed until August 1. The Crawfish season runs from August 1 to March 31,” he said.
“The reason behind that is that during this four month period we know that female lobsters are releasing their eggs so that the stocks can continue and be sustainable,” Mr. Saunders stated.