||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.