Fisherfolk are being warned that they are not permitted to fish or even attempt to fish in Barbuda without a valid permit.
The caution comes after hundreds of parrotfish were seized by authorities on the sister isle last week. Catching parrotfish is completely banned in the sister isle, unlike Antigua which has an annual two-month closed season.
A statement released by the Ministry of Agriculture on Wednesday reminds residents that only children under the age of 16 may engage in recreational fishing in Barbuda without a permit, provided they comply with all national and local regulations.
Last Friday, unlicensed fishermen docked in Barbuda on an unregistered 13ft Boston whaler.
On-site authorities called the police for assistance when the fishermen refused to comply. The men were taken to the Barbuda police station where 334 parrotfish – locally dubbed ‘chub’ – were taken from their ice coolers.
The men were fined, and the boat seized for further investigation. The fish were distributed to the Barbuda community.
Algae-eating parrotfish, like other herbivorous reef fish, play an important role in coral reef ecosystems by removing the algae that compete with corals. The decline in herbivorous fish in recent decades due to overfishing is considered a main factor in the shift to more algae-dominated reefs in the Caribbean.