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Recreational lobster diver licences cut

The Government has reduced the number of recreational lobster diver licences amid concerns about the health of the lobster population.

A cap of 375 licences will be in place for 2019-20, to reflect the fact only 354 divers applied for licences last year, when the cap was 450.

The Ministry of Home Affairs noted 2019-20 was the sixth consecutive season of below average commercial catches, and that the number caught per trap in the inshore area was 29 per cent lower than average.

A spokeswoman said: “The Department of Environment and Natural Resources indicated that they and the Marine Resources Board are still concerned about the long-term health of Bermuda’s lobster population, particularly in the shallow areas closer to shore.

“Bermuda’s lobsters are a resource that is shared between recreational lobster divers and the commercial lobster trap fishermen, and although commercial fishers operate in both deep and shallow water the recreational divers only catch lobsters in areas shallow enough for free-diving.”

She said recreational divers will now be required to fly a standard red and white dive flag and to avoid diving in the immediate vicinity of commercial lobster traps.

Licences will be issued on a first come, first served basis from August 5. The diving season opens on September 1.

Divers who were licensed last season will only be able to relicense if they submitted their catch data to the DENR by the April 30 deadline. The Department reported that 92 divers did not submit any statistics.

For more information visit www.gov.bm/online-services/apply-recreational-lobster-diving-licence.