Brown: 500 lobster licences available
Government has capped the number of recreational lobster divers at 500 for the 2017-18 season.
The limit was announced this morning in a statement by Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, who said the cap was “approximately the same number of divers licensed for the 2016-17 season”.
The announcement comes after some lobster divers had raised concerns that the limit would be significantly reduced to 150 for season, which begins on September 1.
The statement says that divers who held a licence during the past 2016-17 season can be relicensed, but must submit their catch data for the 2016-2017 season before they can renew.
“These lobster diver licences will be issued on a first come, first served basis,” the statement added. “Licences will also be issued to first time recreational lobster divers until the cap is reached.”
Recreational lobster divers can only catch lobsters in areas shallow enough for free-diving, where Government says catches from traps have been declining over the last four seasons
The Marine Resources Board and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have also expressed concern about the long term health of Bermuda’s lobster population, particularly in the shallow areas closer to shore.
Under the terms of the latest licenses lobster divers will be required to be “in strict compliance” with the requirement to report their season’s catch by April 20, next year.
Lobster divers will have to sign the 2017-18 terms and conditions document to indicate their commitment to abide by this deadline and the other terms and conditions.
Mr Brown added: “Going forward, I want to have broader consultation on the issue, and I encourage the formation of a lobster diver association to facilitate this.
“The number of lobster divers allowed in the fishery next season will be decided in consultation with stakeholders after an analysis of the 2017-2018 data.
“As Minister, I will consider proposed amendments to our fishery parameters, if any are required, in order to ensure a healthy fish stock.”
For more information on recreational lobster fishing licenses visit https://www.gov.bm/online-services/apply-recreational-lobster-diving-licence.
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