5 February – The Department of Environment (DoE) is warning seasonal lobster and conch fishermen to adhere to take and possession limits set by National Conservation Law (NCL) regulations, following reports investigated over the past two weeks.
On Monday evening, 28 January, Customs and Border Control Service officers, assisted by DoE conservation officers, searched a number of passengers who were returning to Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts International Airport from the Sister Islands. It was reported that passengers were traveling with more than the allowable possession limit of conch and lobster. The daily, per person catch/possession limit for lobster is three and the daily, per person catch/possession limit for queen conch is five during the open seasons. Lobster season is open through 28 February and conch/whelk season is open through 30 April.
Upon inspection of passengers on two Monday flights from Little Cayman, as well as one flight from Cayman Brac, officers found certain individuals who had exceeded their daily possession limits. Five people were warned for prosecution and several more were given verbal warnings, said Chief Conservation Officer Mark Orr.
“These individuals had large amounts of lobster and conch in their possession, stored in single coolers,” Mr. Orr said. “Whilst those creatures may have been taken legally by the travelers over a few days, NCL regulations do not allow any one person to possess more than the prescribed daily limit of lobster or conch.”
In addition to enforcing possession limits during the open fishing seasons, conservation officers are also cautioning the public against the use of spear guns without the proper licence.
On Saturday, 19 January, conservation officers seized a total of 54 fish of various kinds, as well as one lobster, that officers said were caught using a spear gun. In addition to exceeding his daily catch limit of three fish, the individual licensed to use the spear gun allowed two other men to use the weapon, in contravention of the owner’s licence conditions, officers said. The fish and lobster seized during the DoE operation were donated to the Pines Retirement Home.
“Spear gun licence-holders who do not follow their licence conditions risk losing the privilege to possess these weapons,” said Scott Slaybaugh, DoE deputy director for operations and enforcement. “They may also face prosecution under the NCL for such lapses.” To report suspected marine offences in the Cayman Islands, members of the public are asked to call 911 or to contact DoE conservation officers directly by calling Mark Orr on Grand Cayman (916-4271) or Mike Guderian on Little Cayman (925-0185). On Cayman Brac, the public is asked to call 911 to report marine offences.