All marine reserves have fishing regulations, and Roatan is no different. While most people come to the Caribbean with the thought of eating lobster on the beach, it's important to know when Roatan's lobster season is, and what the lobster regulations are even when they're in season, to ensure that you are not putting an additional strain on the environment and ruining the marine world that Roatan is renowned for.
Lobster is in season on Roatan from July 1st to February 28th (or 29th on leap years), and only fishermen with lobster fishing permits are allowed to catch lobster outside of the Roatan marine reserve. Their tails must be greater than 5.5 inches, or 14.5 centimeters in length. Undersized lobsters are illegal, regardless of if a permit carrier catches them, and it is illegal to go diving for them within the reserve.
Unfortunately, demand for lobster is high, and the restaurants will continue to serve illegal lobster as long as patrons continue to request it. It's our responsibility as visitors to encourage responsible and sustainable seafood consumption so that local providers providers will follow suit, benefiting both the environment and the local economy.
How do I enjoy lobster responsibly?
- Only enjoy fresh-caught lobster between July 1st and February 28th and NOT between the months of March and June.
- When dining in Roatan, ask the restaurant where the lobster was caught. If they respond that it's locally caught, ask about the size of the tail. Remember, they must be larger than 5in/14.5 cm.
- Look around your restaurant for displays of the Bay Islands Responsible Seafood Guide.
- Keep an eye out for warning signs - if you're served lobster that still has its head, it is most likely poached from local, protected waters. Report suspicious activity to the Roatan Marine Park.
For more information regarding Roatan's fishing regulations and environmental laws, go to the Roatan Marine Park's website and learn how to be a responsible tourist today.