While many only observe February 14th as the day of love, here in Belize it also marks the closing of the Lobster Season. That’s right, the ability to fish for or indulge in this delectable crustacean closes after Valentine’s Day. The Spiny Lobster is sought out across Belize as one of the top sea-food platters, but in order to ensure generations to come can still enjoy this marine critter, the Belize Government, through the Fisheries Department implements a fishing season to allow our tasty lobsters to re-populate.
The Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) open season runs from midnight of June 14th to midnight of February 14th. After the season closes, any person found in possession of lobsters will be prosecuted in accordance with 3(1)(b) of the Fisheries Regulations, Chapter 210 of the Subsidiary Laws of Belize Revised Edition 2000-2003. During this time, all lobster traps need to be removed from the water, and restaurants need to deplete their lobster inventory within a two week grace period.
The four month closed season is prime spawning and breeding time for the Spiny Lobster. After hatching it takes up to three years for a lobster to reach full maturity. In Belize it is also illegal to catch berried lobster (with eggs) or undersized lobsters (if they are under 3.5 inches in the carapace length they are still considered juvenile) throughout the year. Penalties for breaking a lobster related law can result in a six month imprisonment or up to a $1,000 in fines.
So take consideration and follow the law. After all it’s only a short four months… and when the season opens up with the Annual Lobster Festivals, there will be loads of lobster for everyone to enjoy!