Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Fishermen welcome lobster season; Hurricane Beryl causes concern


On Monday, July 1st, the 2024-2025 season of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster officially opened in Belize. The first catches of the day were celebrated by fishermen in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. They found a healthy lobster stock and are expecting a prosperous season. However, they are worried about the impact of Hurricane Beryl, which is projected to affect northern Belize and the Cayes when it makes landfall late on Thursday evening or early on Friday, July 5th, in the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula.
A group of fishermen, led by the dedicated Francisco Morales at the Embarcadero on the lagoon side of downtown San Pedro, expressed their satisfaction with the amount of lobster they caught on the first day of the season. Morales, speaking on behalf of the group, shared their belief that this season’s lobster stock will surpass last year’s, as they are committed to monitoring and protecting their fishing grounds. Morales attributed this success to their efforts to fend off unscrupulous fishermen called “Pirates.” “In the past, pirates would raid our traps, affecting our harvesting and livelihood,” he said. The group of fishermen also acknowledged the efforts of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the Belize Fisheries Department.
The current price for lobster is $35 per pound, but this rate could change if Hurricane Beryl damages the fishing grounds. The fishermen are very concerned about the major storm, which can disrupt their traps and fishing areas and cause lobsters to move further away. Morales and his crew fervently hope that the incoming weather system, which appears to be moving further north, does not cause severe damage to their fishing camps.
Hurricane Beryl is the first major hurricane in the Atlantic Basin in June. As it moves west-northwest across the Caribbean Sea at 22 miles per hour, it remains a Category 5 storm. It is an extremely dangerous hurricane with winds of 155 miles per hour. It is projected to pass near northern Belize by late Thursday evening or early Friday morning as a Category 1 hurricane.
Residents and authorities are watching Beryl; however, the highly anticipated Lobster Crawl has started with much fanfare. During this event, restaurants host mini events featuring lobster dishes and various activities to mark the opening of the lobster season. The Lobster Crawl began on Monday and will conclude on Saturday, July 13th, with a lively block party at the Honourable Louis Sylvestre Sporting Arena. Other lobster festivals celebrating the start of the season also occur in Caye Caulker and Placencia in southern Belize. Due to the weather, the Placencia Lobster Fest, scheduled for this weekend, has been postponed.

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