Expert advice should precede adjusting lobster closed season, marine biologist says

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A marine biologist in Barbuda is cautioning that expert advice must be sought before any decision is taken to adjust the annual closed season for harvesting, selling and consuming lobsters.
On Tuesday, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Arthur Nibbs said some Barbudans had spoken to him about shifting the closed season outside of the time allotted for the Caribana festivities.
But marine biologist John Mussington says scientific studies must come first.
“As it is, you cannot have any discussion about changing closing the season. This question must be put to the experts who are conducting their studies,” he said.
Mussington said once the studies are finalised, only then can a decision be taken.
“It is not a question for ministers to voice their opinion and anything about popularity. They need to ensure that the decision is made by the experts,” he said.
Mussington added that lobster is an important resource for the sister isle and must be managed sensibly.
“It is critical to us and the export industry is the most important and significant part of our economy,” he said.
According to Mussington, the survival of the lobster industry is more impactful for Barbuda than any other activity.
“It has a more direct impact on our economy in terms of dollars into the pockets of every householder than any other economic activity. That must be taken onto consideration,” Mussington said.
Meantime, the President of the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG), Tahambay Smith, said despite the benefits to Barbudans any adjustment should be in line with technical advice.
The annual closed season for lobster is May 1 to June 30, while Caribana is held around the start of June.
Smith said there may be a reason why these months were chosen.
“We need to find out exactly what is the issue. If the ban coincides with breeding … there must be a reason,” he said.
According to the EAG president, experts should be able to advise the government on the way forward.
Posts have been circulating on Facebook about a restaurant that was serving lobster on Monday, even though the closed season began that same day.
Some people also reported that lobster had been sold at select spots during Caribana 2016.

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