By Olivia Patterson-Maura, Friends of the Environment
August 1st is fast approaching. To many of us in The Bahamas, this means a day off work, but for all the fishermen out there it means that you are probably already busy planning for that day. Or you at least have an idea of where you hope to be – underwater catching some spiny lobster!
The spiny lobster (or crawfish) fishery is arguably the most important fishery in The Bahamas as it provides approximately 2-3% of the Bahamas GDP and hundreds of jobs, not to mention food on our plates and those of our visitors.
This economic value is a justifiable reason to support a sustainable fishery. And when you add in the importance of spiny lobster in helping to maintain healthy marine ecosystems, there is no reason not to do what we can to keep them around for the future.
As you prepare for the opening of crawfish season, please keep these in mind:
– Crawfish season opens on the morning of August 1st and closes on March 31st in The Bahamas; no exceptions.
– All spiny lobsters caught and retained must have a minimum 5 1/2 inch tail or 3 1/4 inch carapace length
– Possession of egg bearing females is prohibited, as is removing the eggs
– Spear guns and SCUBA are prohibited for catching any fishery resource in The Bahamas
– Spearfishing within 200 yards of any shoreline in the Family Islands (e.g. Abaco) is illegal
– Air compressors (hookahs) are only acceptable for fishing use by Bahamian citizens who are: (1) holding a current Department of Marine Resources permit to do so, and (2) within depths of 30-60ft and during the dates of the open crawfish season (August 1 – March 31).
– Visiting sport fishermen (those who are not citizens or residents) are limited to a catch of 10 crawfish per vessel at any time. Sport fishermen are also prohibited from using hookah to catch any fishery resource. Sport fishermen are allowed to use spears only if it is specified on your fishing permit; make sure to request this from the relevant officer at entry.
All regulatory information has been obtained from The Bahamas Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction and Conservation) Regulations, Ch 244, section 19 (available at laws.bahamas.gov.bs).
Please direct any questions about fishing regulations or reports of poaching to your local Department of Marine Resources officer.
North Abaco: Cooper’s Town – 365-0554
Assistant Fisheries Superintendent (AFS) Leon Pinder
AFS Maureen Cooper
Central Abaco: Marsh Harbour – 699-0202 (office), 699-0203, 699-0204
Senior Fisheries Superintendent Jeremie Saunders
AFS Wayne Cornish