According to a major purchaser of crawfish on Abaco the first week of season has seen a 50 percent decrease in supply over the same period last year. However, they are hopeful that the numbers will balance out pointing to bad weather for the first few days of the season as reason for low numbers.
They are also purchasing at $8 per pound which is equivalent to last year.
Spiny Lobster, also known as crawfish in The Bahamas, is a protected species and a major source of income for local fishermen as well as supplemental income for many other Bahamians. In 2011, crawfish made up 60% of the total fishery product landed by fishers in The Bahamas and 85% of the value of landings on an annual basis. 80% of all fishery products and exports came from crawfish, making up 95% of the value of exports annually.
It is a delicacy for locals and visitors alike – thereby also being an important contributor to the tourist economy, not just as an export.
Records from the 1930’s show that 1-2 million pounds of crawfish were harvested annually. In recent years it is estimated that 20 million pounds are harvested annually. Because of the value crawfish add to the economy local fishers are wary of poaching – both foreign and domestic – as well as illegal fishing practices such as spearing undersized juveniles.
The minimum harvestable size is a 5 ½” tail length. The harvest of crawfish is prohibited during the closed season: April 1 – July 31. Unlike the United States, The Bahamas does not have a “mini-season” before August 1. Visiting sport fishermen (those who are not citizens or residents) are limited to a catch of 10 crawfish per vessel at any time.