The long-awaited 2022-2023 Spiny Lobster Season is now open in Belize! The open lobster fishing season is slated to run from today, July 1st, 2022, to February 28th, 2023. Besides major food festivals this weekend kicking off the celebrations locally, lobster plays a huge role in the Belizean economy aside from its open season launch. In fact, Belize exports a whopping ~$7 million worth of lobster every year. Particularly celebrated in Caye Caulker, Placencia, and Ambergris Caye, beaches buzz with events like lobster crawls, live music, and lobster-centric competitions, whether cooking or capture-based.
Catching The Caribbean Spiny Lobster
Almost all the lobster caught in Belize is done by hand using traditional methods. The majority of lobster fishermen do so by free diving to the seafloor. With one deep breath, a long stick with a hook at the end is used to quickly hook the lobster before it can scuttle away. Spiny lobsters tend to love rocky areas, so this is a skill perfected over time. Not to mention, free diving for lobsters allows fishers to be selective about the lobsters that they catch, so there’s less risk of you getting undersized or oversized ones. This guarantees in accordance with Belize’s fisheries regulations of a minimum 3-inch carapace length and minimum 4-ounce tail weight.
The other way that lobsters are caught in Belize is with traps. Local fishermen carefully make handmade traps as tradition has taught them, bait the traps, and place them in a sandy, shallow area. Once a few lobsters have fallen prey, fishers then free dive to retrieve it by pulling it up by line onto their dories or skiffs. It should also be noted the implementation of the amended lobster regulations that establish a new lobster carapace length of 3.25inches, a minimum tail weight of 4.5 ounces, and a lobster trap escape gap of 2 1/8 inches will be deferred until next year. Be sure to enjoy your lobster responsibly in Belize this 2022-2023 season by following fisheries laws!