Caribbean spiny lobster
POND ISLAND–The Inspectorate of the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (TEATT) reminds the business community to apply for their permit before the November 30 deadline in accordance with the Lobster Ordinance, which regulates the sale and purchasing of the spiny lobster in St. Maarten.
Any person or business who buys, sells, trades, delivers, transports, imports or exports lobsters is required to have a permit issued by TEATT under the ordinance, which is not new but has been in existence since 1963.
The ordinance is not intended to restrict the trade in lobster, but to sustainably manage and protect this important resource for the island’s fisheries. Besides, lobsters are also “harvested” by recreational fishers.
Those required to have a permit include wholesale seafood vendors or middlemen who resell lobsters to restaurants. Restaurants are also required to have a permit as they resell the lobster to customers.
The permit is valid for two years. There is currently no fee attached to the permit.
A grace period is currently in place until November 30, for restaurants and wholesale seafood vendors who sell lobster products, allowing those who sell this product to apply for a permit.
Those interested in requesting a permit should get in contact with the Department of Economic Licences at Window B at the Government Administration Building. Guidance will be provided with regard to the application process. An application letter addressed to the Minister of TEATT is part of the process.
Wholesale seafood vendors and restaurants will be required not to purchase juvenile lobsters from suppliers. Once the grace period has expired, the Inspectorate will start enforcement of the ordinance to ensure that those persons selling, trading, delivering, transporting, importing or exporting the spiny lobster have a permit and that they are adhering to permit stipulations.
Inspectors will be checking the size of lobsters in restaurant holding tanks to make sure those that have been harvested are in compliance with the Lobster Ordinance.
Once the grace period is over, the Inspectorate will also be carrying out controls to make sure that restaurants who have lobster on their menu are in possession of the permit.
TEATT did announce a zero-tolerance approach with respect to the national regulations and laws that are in place as adherence and compliance ensure safety and security of all residents and the sustainable use of St. Maarten’s natural resources.