THE CARIBBEAN SPINY LOBSTER FISHERY IN CUBA: An approach to sustainable fishery management
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The Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) is the most valuable fishery resource in Cuba. Intensive fishing efforts and deterioration of essential habitats have led to overexploitation of this resource over much of its distributional range. In Cuba, the spiny lobster fishery collapsed in 1990, and since then landings have consistently declined. In response to this crisis and with the aim of obtaining the maximum economic benefits from this highly-prized resource, the Cuban Ministry of Fishery attempted to improve the management of this fishery. The purpose of this study is to identify the biophysical, human and institutional components of the spiny lobster fishery in Cuba and map their interactions to better understand the current management of this fishery and promote its long term sustainability. An exhaustive literature review and an analysis of the current management regulations show that Cuba has met some of the most important criteria that could lead to the long term sustainability of the fishery. The limited access to the fishery, allocation of exclusive territorial rights and quotas, as well as the strict enforcement of the minimum legal size and a lengthening of the closed season have led many researchers to consider the Cuban fishery as one of the best managed spiny lobster fisheries in the world. Despite these regulations, landings have not increased. This indicates that the lobster population has not recovered from the previous overexploitation. The management could be improved by providing protection to the lobsters with the highest reproductive capacity through an increase in the minimum legal size to 81 mm carapace length and establishment of a maximum legal size (142 mm CL). More complete socio-economic impact analysis is necessary to better understand the human components of the fishery. This could help illuminate the reasons for illegal lobster fishing, a common problem in the Cuban waters. Additionally, fishermen integration into the fisheries policy-making process is crucial to achieve effective management regulations. A sustainable spiny lobster fishery in Cuba is essential for the recovery of this transboundary resource both in the local waters and in the Wider Caribbean Region.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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