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Crews of fishermen poised for lobster haul

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Spiny lobster.
Spiny lobster (Palinurus elephas) Photo: DEA / C. GALASSO/De Agostini/Getty Images

It’s open season on the Gulf’s lobster population starting tomorrow, Friday, July 1.

The harvest of spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) is closely monitored by officials to ensure the sustainability of the valuable export.

Yucatán is the first of the country’s fishing regions allowed to go after lobster. This provides employment and income to about 1,200 fishermen working in 315 small craft and 28 larger vessels. The federal government counts 18 fishing communities in this region whose main activity is the capture of the crustacean.

In 2015, Yucatán hauled in just over 585.5 tons of lobsters, with a value of 69.4 million pesos. Most, about 85 percent, are enjoyed along the Caribbean coast and 15 percent is exported to the European Union, mainly France. The year before, fewer lobsters were caught, about 500 tons, but they were valued at 70 million pesos.

INAPESCA, through its Regional Center for Fisheries Research in Yucalpetén, rules that the minimum catch size is 135 millimeters in length along the abdomen; pregnant female lobsters must be returned to the Gulf waters.

Fishing season ends on Feb. 28, 2017.

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