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Tuesday, March 6, 2012


By:   Sarita Williams-Peter, Fisheries Biologist, Department of Fisheries

Valentine’s Day is a day of romance as many loved ones are showered with gifts and a special dinner too. The culinary inclined may whip up an intimate meal; others may just go out to eat. Yet, whatever decided lobsters are usually a part of a luxurious Valentine’s Day meal like “surf and turf”.

The “surf” part of the meal is often the Caribbean spiny lobster, scientific name Panulirus argus. Spiny lobsters lack the distinct big claws of the Maine lobster - the most common lobsters in the U.S.A., but the succulent tail meat of the spiny lobster is sort after by many tourist and locals alike – making the spiny lobster a highly demanded delicacy in St. Lucia.

It’s this high demand coupled with illegal fishing practises that is threatening the population of the Caribbean spiny lobster and its future supply.  One of the strategies adopted to protect the future supply is to limit the time of the year lobster can be caught or used; this is called a close season. The annual close season for lobsters in St. Lucia is from March 1 to August 1. When the season is closed it is illegal to fish for, sell or purchase spiny lobsters.

More than 90-95% of spiny lobsters will die during the transition from baby to adult life. Death is also very high during their teenage life, so that very few actually make it to be adults. Fishing targets the few survivors that become adults. To ensure that the population of lobsters continue to grow we must leave some adults in the sea to reproduce. The close season prevents all the adult lobsters from being removed from the sea and it also coincides with the time of year that reproduction of the Caribbean spiny lobster is at its highest.

So during the month of February enjoy lobster because from March 1 to August 1 the fishery will be closed to give the lobsters time to "enjoy” each other – making more lobsters for years to come.

Contact the Department of Fisheries at Tel. +1758-468-4143 for more information.