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Consultation on crab and lobster fisheries 30 May 2006

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, has today launched a consultation paper on regulation of the Island’s crab and lobster fisheries.

This consultation is to gauge opinion about measures that could further strengthen management of the fishery and the way it is licensed.

The crab and lobster fisheries within the Island’s territorial sea are a sustainable, well-protected resource. They support about 30 commercial fishing vessels, and provide the Island with healthy, top-quality local produce all year round. There are also a number of ‘hobby’ fishermen, who are permitted to fish up to five pots each.

Anyone wishing to fish with pots for crab and lobster within the territorial sea, including a hobby fisherman, requires a licence or permit from DAFF to do so.

The Island currently operates a strict limit on the total number of crab and lobster pots that can be fished commercially within the territorial sea. A waiting list is in place for fishermen wishing to move into this fishery. Pot licences are not transferable and cannot be bought or sold.

The consultation document includes some of the arguments for and against important points such as these. They are intended to stimulate debate, not restrict it to these items. If there are any other matters associated with the crab and lobster fisheries on which anyone would like to express a view, they will be very welcome.

The consultation document released today is being sent to all commercial and hobby fishermen, and other interested parties. Further copies of the document can be obtained from the Department.

The consultation includes questions seeking views on –

  1. continuation of the arrangement whereby crab and lobster licences revert to the Department on sale of a vessel, rather than being sold on by the current licence holder; or, alternatively, allowing a market to develop in crab and lobster licences;
  2. an increase in the bag limit for hobby fishermen from 1 to 2 lobsters per day;
  3. mandatory tagging of all crab and lobster pots (including those of hobby fishermen);
  4. a requirement for additional conservation measures such as escape panels to allow juveniles to get out of pots;
  5. a change to the minimum landing sizes.

However, the consultation is not limited to these points. Views are welcome on any other matters associated with the crab and lobster fisheries.

The Department looks forward to reading the views of all interested parties. The closing date by which responses should be sent to the Department is Friday 18th August.

For further information, please contact DAFF Sea Fisheries Section (telephone 685857) or email: fisheries@daff.gov.im

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