ST JOHN’S, Antigua – There has apparently been no improvement in the lobster supply to local hotels and restaurants, which recently confirmed that they were experiencing a serious shortage.
Lobsters are one of the most in-demand menu items by visitors and guests and these establishments.
The lobster shortage is said to have been sparked by Chinese traders who are cornering the market by offering local fishermen enticements of assistance and attractive prices in exchange for selling all their lobster catches to them.
One hotelier told OBSERVER Media he is aware that the problem was brought to the attention of the tourism ministry, which replied not long ago via a terse letter promising to look into the matter.
According to the hotelier, nothing further has been heard from the government since.
He expressed concern that while corrective action remains on hold, the country’s stocks of lobster could become depleted beyond recovery due to the over-harvesting that the Chinese incentives may encourage.
The matter is reported to have been discussed last week in Cabinet where it emerged that no permission was ever given by local authorities for any Chinese to engage in catching or exporting lobsters.
But, according to our source, the Cabinet discussion ended without any clear determination on how it would proceed to deal with this situation.
We have tried unsuccessfully since this story broke weeks ago to contact Chief Fisheries Officer Cheryl Appleton for further insight into this matter.