Grouper is off the menu but lobster back on

| 29/11/2018 | 35 Comments
Cayman News Service

Nassau grouper

(CNS): With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, restaurants will be making seasonal changes to their menus as the grouper season closes but open season on lobster begins. The Department of Environment is urging people to follow the National Conservation Law to help protect these important species during the open and closed seasons. The Nassau grouper season closes on Saturday, as the short window for enjoying lobster opens, and officials are hoping the community will help them police both these species to control poaching.

During the closed season anyone who takes, purchases, receives, offers for sale, possesses, exchanges or donates Nassau grouper commits an offence.

“The Nassau Grouper is a protected species under the NCL, so we shouldn’t see any ‘fresh grouper’
being sold in restaurants or markets during the closed season,” said DoE Research Officer Bradley Johnson. “If members of the public do see it for sale, please don’t purchase it.”

Fisherfolk who inadvertently catch Nassau grouper during closed season should release them alive,
even if the grouper is hurt during the catch. Using circle hooks, as opposed to J-hooks, can make the process of removing the hook from the fish’s mouth easier, as the circle hooks are designed to not hook in the stomach of the fish but rather in the mouth, making extraction less dangerous for the fish, the DoE advised.

The annual Grouper Moon project is also scheduled for January, when researchers will monitor the Nassau grouper population and spawning sites around Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. The effort will include public education workshops and, hopefully, live on-location broadcasts.

“The Nassau grouper has been making a somewhat steady comeback in the waters off Little Cayman over the past decade and this recovery makes species conservation efforts even more crucial as we try to duplicate the repopulation on Grand Cayman,” Johnson said.

Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour, who has previously criticised the conservation law, said in a release about the seasonal changes, “It is important that we observe and uphold these rules for the Nassau grouper closed season, and we ask the public to please support our efforts to regenerate our over-fished stocks so that future generations can enjoy this species.”

Meanwhile, Cayman’s lobster season opens on Saturday until 28 February.

Cayman News Service

Adult spiny lobster

During the open season there are still strict rules as to the size and quantity of lobsters people can catch. They can only be taken from outside marine protected areas and only spiny lobsters may be taken. Any lobster taken must have a minimum tail length of six inches. There is a take limit during the open season of three spiny lobster per person, per day, or six spiny lobster per boat, per day – whichever is less.

Anyone who takes, purchases, receives, possess or offers for sale, exchange or donation more than three lobster per day from Cayman Islands waters commits an offence under the NCL. It is also unlawful to use gloves, a spear or a hook stick to catch lobster at any time. The preferred method of catching lobster is with a snare. Lobster snares, which can be purchased locally, allow users to humanely catch lobster and also allow the harmless release of any undersized lobster.

“If you see a lobster and you are in doubt about the size and whether it is legal to take, to be on the safe side, it is probably best to leave it and look for a bigger one,” said DoE Manager John Bothwell.

The DoE also asks that individuals catching lobster avoid, to the extent possible, taking females. Females can be easily identified as they have two “toes” on their hind/bottom legs nearest to the tail and will often have a black, slimy substance attached underneath them in the area between their legs.

Anyone who sees or becomes aware of poaching is asked to call 911. People can also contact DoE enforcement officers directly on Grand Cayman (916-4271), on Cayman Brac (call 911) or on Little Cayman (925-0185.). 

For more information on fishing seasons and marine life please visit the DoE website.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (35)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Any other Caymanians find their traditional lobsters spots raided by expats before the sun came up this morning? All I could find was broken off legs and antenna. BAN them!!

    • Anonymous says:

      20 mins for 3 big boys and that was at lunchtime.

      You need to find another spot!

      Of course it wouldn’t have been anyone like the local below that publicly gives the finger to you and the DOE declaring HE allows 8 per person from his boat as some kinda god given right? Imagine he went out earlier than you this morning with 5 of his pals? Lucky you got some legs! I doubt he would have bothered with anything other than a hook stick so he probably wasn’t the culprit truthfully.

      No doubt there are Expats that take the p…….

      But I have witnessed locals fill 2 x big coolers to the brim of Lobster from one session from NS (must have been close to a hundred easily). It was quite unreal…

      But you blame away…..

      • Anonymous says:

        I watched the expats getting out of the water with bags full. They spoke with South African, Canadian and American accents.

        • Anonymous says:

          They were on my spot when I arrived and they took everything. And were rude and racist towards me when I asked them to save a couple for me.

          – North Sider

  2. Anonymous says:

    CNS: Restaurants are not immune from the lobster possession law as I understand it. They must only be in possession of three lobsters at any one time, so collecting 3 per day and selling 21 at the end of the week is illegal. Please check with DoE to confirm as this was an issue last year for some restaurants.

    If this is the case, owners and chefs need to understand the limitation on selling local lobster because they are the main market for poachers alongside greedy tourists, residents and locals who want luxury foods for the grill. Responsible restaurants should only sell ‘off island’ caught lobster and anyone seeing ‘local caught’ or ‘fresh lobster’ on any menu should notify the appropriate authority for investigation.

    Nobody has the right, Caymanian or otherwise, to break the law or diminish ocean stocks of any marine creature.
    Get your heads around this people or there will be nothing left for our kids.

    Message to DoE bosses. Get more officers and boats and get of your hands as Enforcement against poachers and receivers of stolen marine life on these islands is a well known and sad joke.

    Concerned Caymanian Restauranteur/Bar owner.

  3. Frank says:


    “so we shouldn’t see any ‘fresh grouper’ being sold in restaurants or markets during the closed season,” said DoE Research Officer Bradley Johnson… If members of the public do see it for sale, please don’t purchase it.”

    Thankfully, those who like to eat grouper will still see plenty of grouper for sale at various restaurants and supermarkets brought on island by local commercial fishermen, such as myself…

    Most groupers landed in Grand Cayman are Yellowfin or Black Groupers, which are plentiful and not in any danger of extinction. Nassau Groupers only represent a tiny fraction of the grouper population in the Caribbean – so why generalize with such dramatic and uneducated statements, Mr. Bradley Johnson??

    • Anonymous says:

      Most common grouper on the menu are the deep water species like the snowy (day) grouper which are reeled up from 800’-1000’ of water. I agree with you tho. DoE are clueless.

  4. Mikey says:

    Clearly Mr. Shannon cant read articles that well…. LOL

  5. Anonymous says:

    soooo…when does Duppy season open???

  6. Anonymous says:

    Leviticus 11: 9-10

    • Anonymous says:

      Exodus 31:14 states that you should kill anyone you see working on the Sabbath.

      If you don’t eat lobster because of that verse, why pick and choose? Why haven’t you killed McRuss workers who work 24/7?

      Probably because a 2000 year old text written by people who thought that the sun orbited the Earth doesn’t apply to our modern life.

      Stop making a fairytale control you. Religion is a lie and a social construct created to control the masses through fear.

  7. Shannon says:

    Just my 2 cents after lobstering for quite a while now…. and by the book.

    It’s a shame there is no law against taking them with eggs/roe. I have caught many a Lobster, only to be disappointed to find they are carrying eggs/roe when I check under the tail. In all good conscience, I just cannot justify the need to kill however many lobster that potentially might be (thousands?) for the sake of taking that particular one.

    I would love to know what the DOE’s stance on this is?

    Sure, it would be a small loss for every hunter on the day, but there’s always another not far away and I could only imagine it would be a massive boon for one and all?

    So the other cent lol…..

    In nearly 15 years of lobstering, I have not once been pulled up or checked that I am doing the right thing out there. No doubt as usual there will be a half ass’d presence for the first few days – particularly in North Sound but after that it’s……………..

    ……….. crickets!

    We could make the fishery so much better with a few little tweaks that wouldn’t hurt a bit.

    Just my 2 cents.



    • Anonymous says:

      DOE mentions it:

      “The DoE also asks that individuals catching lobster avoid, to the extent possible, taking females. Females can be easily identified as they have two “toes” on their hind/bottom legs nearest to the tail and will often have a black, slimy substance attached underneath them in the area between their legs.”

      There is no law against it and you are right that this isn’t enforced well enough. If people read this and are lobstering this season dont take the females.

    • Counting down the hours till Dec1 says:

      I agree; females in berry and lobsters in softshell stage should be prohibited. This is the case in many other jurisdictions.

    • Anonymous says:

      The limit on my boat is 8 per person. We don’t need your preaching.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have learned to (mostly) differentiate the males from the females looking from above them. I feel the same as you — I don’t want to take females at all during the season, because the season is set wrong. OFTEN the females taken during the season have roe. For me, a roe-bearing female lobster is a bittersweet dish.

      The relationship between the carapace and the tail: In general a male will have a larger carapace, and the tail will be smaller. In general, a female will have a tail close to the same width as the carapace.

      In general, it will be the males you see walking out in the open in daytime.

      If you see a lobster whose tail is curved inward, that is probably a gravid (carrying eggs) female.

  8. Anonymous says:

    “There are strict rules…” maybe so, but if enforcement and prosecutions don’t follow through, it’s a waste of time.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thumbs up if expats should be banned from taking marine life from our waters!

    • Anonymous says:

      Ummm so no more fishing tourism businesses? You gonna put a lot of Caymanians out of work with that ban.

      • Anonymous says:

        Fishing with licensed charter captains would be an exception, duh! This would actually generate more business for our charter captains.

      • Anonymous says:

        I hear the DOE has some vacancies.

        • Anonymous says:

          They need more. Start by getting rid of those idiots in charge of enforcement and employ more officers who don’t spend their day conducting their own businesses at govt expense.

      • Anonymous says:

        Catch and release? Mandatory licences for all fishermen which would cover tourists. A tourist licence, a commercial licence, a hobby licence etc.

        Non – Caymanians including expats (aka anybody on a work permit) cannot fish for any sea life that has limited quantities or are seasonal – grouper, conch, lobster etc. Or cannot qualify for a fishing licence at all unless they undergo sea life training. They must be resident in the Cayman Islands for at least 3 years prior to qualify for the licence. They must take a swimming test.

        Fishing licences are granted only if govt training is provided on sea preservation. A test must be taken with at least an 80% pass. The licence is valid for 2 years. Similar to the food and handlers licence.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thumbs up if you think xenophobia should be a criminal offence.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s not xenophobia, it’s conservation and common sense! We are not like the Bahamas who have thousands of miles of shallow water reefs. We have very little shallow water until the sea drops off into the abyss. This is why our islands cannot sustain pressure of fishing from expatriates.

        You come here and make an absolute fortune while living in paradise. You are just greedy and don’t give a shit that our marine resources will be depleted when you leave!

    • Anonymous says:

      They are, without a fishing license. We just do not enforce our laws.

      • Anonymous says:

        There are no such thing as fishing licenses on the Cayman Islands for tourists expats or locals. Anyone can fish from the shore and take exactly the same sizes and quantity as required by law.
        Do your homework bobo, stop with the fake news.

    • Anonymous says:

      So conservation is only for expats? You guys sure do love your discrimination. Makes you sound kinda dumb.

    • Stop it says:

      Everybody on these islands are expatriates or descendents of expatriates. Stop being dumb.

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