Rise in number of catches of undersized lobster reported
FISHERIES protection officers have seen an increase in the number of fishermen catching lobsters smaller than the minimum legal size.
In recent weeks a number of cases have gone before the Magistrate’s Court, with offenders being fined £150 for having specimens below 87mm.
The offences took place at the end of April and beginning of May.
Senior marine and fisheries officer David Yettram said the regulations existed to protect the lobster population.
‘There has been no crackdown or campaign, but this spike in cases could be down to the weather. People think the weather is good and they go out to fish without knowing what the rules or regulations are,’ he said. ‘We have had a few people given fines in the courts in recent weeks and there is another one coming up. There are reasons why these regulations are in place and it is all down to the conservation of lobsters.’
Recreational fishermen do not need a licence to catch lobster unless they plan to sell them. Commercial fishermen require a licence and there is a limit on the number of pots commercial fishermen can work.
All parlour pots must be fitted with an escape gap for undersized lobsters to exit and pots are banned in certain areas, such as the Minquiers.
The minimum size for a lobster is a carapace length of 87mm measured from the rear of the eye socket to the rear end of the body shell along a line parallel to the centreline of the shell.
Mr Yettram wants people to be aware of the regulations before fishing to stop themselves from getting into hot water with the authorities.
He added: ‘If lobsters are a small size then they are caught before they can reproduce, so the regulations are about conservation. If a lobster is just that little bit smaller then it can’t carry as many eggs and it hits reproduction.
‘I saw a comment on social media from a fisherman who said what would happen if he caught two or three undersized ones every week and if everyone did that too. It would create a big problem with the lobster population.’