Caribbean Sea — Belize Coast
Fish harvesters catch spiny lobsters by free diving and collecting them live from concrete casitas cubanas (“little houses”) which are placed on the ocean floor. The casitas provide protective habitat for the lobsters to hide and allowing harvesters to capture them using handlines, spear guns, hooksticks or nooses.
Casitas are made of concrete or wood and look like tables with stumpy legs. They measure about just over one metre square (13 square feet) and are placed on the seafloor in shallow water. Casitas aren’t traditional traps because spiny lobsters are free to come and go. However, spiny lobsters crave shelter during the day and are attracted to this low-lying casitas. Fish harvesters dive into the shallow waters to a maximum of 15 metres, turn over the casitas and collect the lobsters using a hand-held net called a jamo. The casitas require little maintenance, are easy to monitor and effectively attract spiny lobster.
Harvesters use either small motorized skiffs or sail boats to reach their fishing ground. Skiff fishers typically go on trips for one to four days at sea and use mostly traps or casitas cubanas to capture lobsters. Sailboats have crews of between six to ten and spend up to 10 days at sea. They typically use handlines, spearguns, hooksticks and nooses to capture lobster.
The lobster fishery is managed by access and effort control, seasonal and area closures, gear restrictions and size limits. A number of measures address conservation in the fishery. These include:
Jun 15 - Feb 15
The Belize Fisheries Depatment manages the lobster fishery.