FISHERY PROFILE

Belize Spiny Lobster by Dive & Trap

Caribbean Sea — Belize Coast

PRIMARY SPECIES:

Caribbean Spiny Lobster

FISHERY OPENINGS:

Jun 15 - Feb 15

Dive with Casitas Traps

Fish harvesters catch spiny lobsters by free diving and collecting them live from concrete casitas cubanas (“little houses”) which are placed on the ocean floor. The casitas provide protective habitat for the lobsters to hide and allowing harvesters to capture them using handlines, spear guns, hooksticks or nooses. 

Harvesting Method

Dive with Casitas Traps

Casitas are made of concrete or wood and look like tables with stumpy legs. They measure about just over one metre square (13 square feet) and are placed on the seafloor in shallow water. Casitas aren’t traditional traps because spiny lobsters are free to come and go. However, spiny lobsters crave shelter during the day and are attracted to this low-lying casitas. Fish harvesters dive into the shallow waters to a maximum of 15 metres, turn over the casitas and collect the lobsters using a hand-held net called a jamo. The casitas require little maintenance, are easy to monitor and effectively attract spiny lobster.

Dive with Casitas Traps

Harvesters use either small motorized skiffs or sail boats to reach their fishing ground. Skiff fishers typically go on trips for one to four days at sea and use mostly traps or casitas cubanas to capture lobsters. Sailboats have crews of between six to ten and spend up to 10 days at sea. They typically use handlines, spearguns, hooksticks and nooses to capture lobster.

Conservation Measures

The lobster fishery is managed by access and effort control, seasonal and area closures, gear restrictions and size limits. A number of measures address conservation in the fishery. These include:

  • Four month seasonal closure (Feb. 15 – June 15th)
  • Prohibition to capture egg-bearing females
  • Minimum legal size limit (4.2 oz tail)
  • Only free diving and artificial shelters (casitas) are allowed; hooks can be used as aids.
  • Limitation on the number of fishing licences and concessions (individual sea lots) given only to fishing cooperatives.
  • No-take zones
  • Spatial management areas
  • A restriction on the number of lobster vessels.

In this lobster fishing area, fish harvesters actively participate in scientific data collection and research such as:

  • a comprehensive data collection system on catches
  • scientific sampling of lobsters at sea
  • maintaining catch logbooks and scientific field notebooks
FISHERY DETAILS

Caribbean Sea

MAP
FISHERY OPENINGS

Jun 15 - Feb 15

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

The Belize Fisheries Depatment manages the lobster fishery.

Members

Food Info Caribbean Spiny Lobster


TASTING NOTES

  • Colour: when cooked, a bright red shell and snow white meat with red tinges 
  • Texture: a firm, dense, somewhat fibrous texture
  • Flavour: sweet, mild, but distinctive taste which can vary depending on habitat
  • Perfect serve: Lobster lends itself to a huge variety of cooking preparations but a popular Caribbean recipe is to grill the lobster after splitting and seasoning.
HOW TO CHOOSE A QUALITY CARIBBEAN SPINY LOBSTER