Honduras upholds industrial lobster diving ban
After the Honduran government agreed to a ban on industrial lobster diving, organizers consider the recent Third Annual Lobster Symposium in La Ceiba, Honduras, a success.
“The government of Honduras … stated that the ban for the diving lobster fishery will be done by mid-2013. A transition national diving plan is being established,” said Jimmy Andino, chief of party for Global FISH Alliance’s Spiny Lobster Initiative-Honduras.
Honduras has one year left on a two-year exemption from industrial lobster diving, and environmental groups were concerned before the meeting that the ban would not be enforced in 2013. The Lobster Symposium was organized by Global FISH Alliance’s Spiny Lobster Initiative, which promotes better management practices to increase lobster populations and includes corporations such as Darden.
“If the Honduran scuba diving issue is not amended, it will no doubt affect Honduras’s ability to maintain and grow markets in the future,” said Roger Bing, VP of seafood purchasing for Darden Restaurants.
The industrial diving ban is important as international foodservice buyers seek more sustainable lobster sources. Darden — one of the largest buyers of lobsters globally — will not buy lobsters that are trawl-caught or scuba dive-caught, said Bing.
“We have also withdrawn purchasing from fisheries that have not demonstrated sustainable harvesting practices,” said Bing.
While many support the ban, there are some concerns from the Honduras spiny lobster industry.
“There are a number of issues, [primarily] finding alternative jobs for the scuba divers. Some of the scuba divers feel they need more time to convert to the trap-caught process,” said Bing.
Nearly 40 lobster representatives and a number of government officials attended the meeting. Members of the Association of Active Divers Moskitia met with Association of Boat diving, to develop strategies to make the 2012-2013 fishing season more organized and safe, according to Andino.