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Do you love lobster? We do as well; however, for the time being we need to say “NO” to consuming local lobsters. We are in the middle of a lobster-ban in the Dominican Republic. The ban on its FISHING and PROCESSING in the Caribbean is from March 1st to June 30th. Even though it is the law, it is still captured and sold by many vendors! This ban is in place so they can reproduce and we can enjoy them for years to come.
Due to a combination of factors including overfishing and poaching, Caribbean Spiny Lobsters need time to repopulate, which is why we do not fish or purchase them during their mating season. In previous years, this ban has been focused mainly on fishing lobster, but as the ban actually prohibits the “capture, processing, meat or mass possession and marketing,” restaurants and tour operators who may have stock-piled lobster for use during this ban are no longer able to do this… essentially meaning that lobster should currently not be available for consumption. Sad to say but many restaurants on the island still sell lobster during this season.
We strongly encourage not buying lobster; it is simply not worth risking the permanent damage to our ecosystem. Such a simple gesture helps reduce illegal poaching in the area by decreasing demand, and makes sure that we can enjoy tasty lobster when it’s in season.
Now, if you ask at a restaurant about this, many restaurants will say that they purchased and froze their lobsters before the seasonal ban started on March 1st, so they claim to legally be able to sell them to you. But let’s think about this for one second… remember the law changed so legally the ban is set so that establishments are not able to stockpile and promote local lobster consumption. So that argument is not really valid – although some authorities commonly “look the other way”.
An even more important argument is that it is in OUR hands, the consumers, to do something about it. It’s as easy as thinking back to our Economics 101 courses about Supply and Demand. If consumers demand it, establishments don’t want to lose out on the business and will look for a way to supply it.
We encourage everyone to do their part and refrain from buying lobsters, eating them at restaurants or supporting establishments that do. Ultimately, its the responsibility of each and every one of us to protect the lobsters so that they can reproduce and we can have delicious, fresh lobsters for years to come. What’s a few months without eating lobster anyways?
About the Lobster Ban
The first Lobster Ban applied in countries located in the Caribbean and Central America was in 2010, based on a regulation signed by the Governments of region countries on May 21st of the previous year (2009).
From March 1st to June 30th every year, the capture, processing, meat or mass possession and marketing of the spiny lobster, spotted spiny lobster, spiny rock lobster and spiny lobster mom are prohibited.
Not only does the ban contribute to preserving the species, but it also helps to improve it’s quality for exports.
Anyone that is found disrespecting the ban could be fined up to US$50,000 as well as jail sentences of up to 10 years.
So please remember not to fish or buy fresh lobsters in any of the seafood centers or beaches as a way of protecting them.