Know and follow the fishing regulations-Two boats caught with illegal lobster and conch!
I recently stumbled upon this story published by WPTV West Palm Beach and written by Terra Sullivan. The full article can be read here.
Two boats were pulled over in the St. Lucie Inlet and searched, revealing 120 illegal lobster tails and 12 queen conch. The boats claimed to be returning from West End.
I am asked all the time what the regulations are for bringing fish, conch, and lobster back from the Bahamas. I put up a post about these regulations here. Keep in mind that when you transport your catch from one country to another you are responsible to abide by the fishing/possesion regulations of BOTH countries. That means, while you might be allowed 6 conch in the Bahamas, you are allowed none in Florida waters. And even though you may posses up to 12 lobster per person in most of Florida, you are only allowed 10 lobster per VESSEL in the Bahamas, and bahamian lobster have to be 3 1/2", which is bigger than the 3" minimum size in Florida.
I have been all through the Bahamas over the past 20 years both for work and recreation. And I have recently spent a lot of time in the Southern Bahamas. An area that was very unspoiled for a long time but has now been hit extremely hard by poachers from the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean nations. These poachers take everything. In some areas, you are lucky to find barracudas larger than 12 inches. All of the conch and lobster have been harvested. The Bahamians know how to maintain their fishery. But the Dominican fisherman don't care about sustainability, and the Bahamian fisherman see Dominican boats on their southern border all the time. In fact, reports claim that between 30 and 65 Dominican long range fishing boats are working the southern Bahamas.
There are a lot of Bahamians that are very upset with the poaching that is going on in the Bahamas by foreigners. And there is talk of changing the fishing regulations and increasing the enforcement of their regulations. And an american boat taking 120 lobsters is the same to them as a dominican boat taking 10 tons. They see all of it as poaching and as a major threat. So please think about this next time you want to transport your catch across the border.