Restaurants are people too – at least according to the National Conservation Law’s provisions regarding the take of lobster from Cayman’s waters.
The Department of Environment said the limit for restaurants is the same as it is for individuals: three per day.
The DOE said the ultimate goal is sustainability.
“It is very clear that no one can have more than three, so if you are a restaurant for example, that means the restaurant can only have three,” said DOE Senior Research Officer John Bothwell.
Mr. Bothwell said while the wording of the law as it pertains to local lobster is simple enough, images like the ones circulated on social media by local establishments themselves show that restaurants aren’t getting the message.
“The law obviously treats ‘person’ very broadly to include businesses such as restaurants, so it is, there’s not a question of who this doesn’t apply to, it applies to everybody,” said Mr. Bothwell.
He said the DOE is working to educate restaurants on the particulars of the new lobster limits, which have been in place since 2016.
“Everybody would love to be able to serve Cayman local lobster in the restaurants to the tourists and even to the local people, but the truth of the matter is that we just have too small of a fishery to be able to sustainability support lobster fishing from a commercial perspective,” said Cayman Sea Sense manager Catherine Childs.
Ms. Childs said the math just doesn’t add up.
At the current limit of three per person per day, over the 89 day season, a person could legally harvest close to 270 lobsters. If each of the 60,000 people in Cayman took their legal limit, that would add up to more than 16 million lobsters taken for the season.
“Keeping that in mind, I think it’s probably generous with the DOE is allowing for people, three lobsters per day, it’s probably a generous allowance,” said Ms. Childs.
“We are trying to have a sustainable recreational fishery where everybody who would like to can go out occasionally, get a few lobsters during the season, and we will still have lobsters next year,” said Mr. Bothwell.
Mr. Bothwell told Cayman 27 the DOE will be engaging restaurants from early next week to remind them of the restrictions before it starts pressing charges against violators.
If you catch a restaurant running afoul of the law, report it. You can call the DOE to report offences, or use the anonymous crime stoppers hotline at 800-TIPS.