The president of the Antigua & Barbuda Fishermen’s Cooperative has dismissed the suggestion made by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Arthur Nibbs, to reposition the lobster closed season.
Len Mussington said any changes to the closed season to promote business sales during events like Caribana and Antigua Sailing Week would risk destroying the livelihoods of fishermen.
“You have two things to think about, whether or not you want the lobster season to serve the purpose of preserving the species or you’re going to do it just for business profits,” Mussington said.
“It’s not a matter that restaurants want to have customers to buy then you just gonna open it just for that.”
He explained the rationale for the specific dates for the closed season – May 1 to June 30 — saying it was the time when most of the lobsters spawn.
“It’s not that you pull the dates out of a magic hat to say ‘well this is going to be closed season’. The fisheries division, I think, did studies and that’s the time of the year when the species are most vulnerable,” Mussington.
There have been reports of several restaurants illegally selling lobster during the closed season but Mussington told OBSERVER media that most fisherman are not guilty of illegal fishing during the closed season.
“The greater percentage of the fishermen are cooperating with it,” he said. “This is the time of the year when they will take vacation, repair their boats … it’s only two months.”
He also said many fishermen assist with the monitoring and often air support for the mandated ban on catching lobster.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)