A St James woman found herself $10,000 poorer on Wednesday after admitting to the St James Parish Court that she was selling 33 pounds of spine-tailed lobster outside of the prescribed fishing season.
Candace McIntosh pleaded guilty with explanation to the charge of possession of lobster during the closed season. While the circumstances behind her arrest were not outlined in court, McIntosh told presiding parish judge Sasha Ashley that she had the lobster for about six months. “It was for business, not personal use,” said McIntosh.
“Yes, but there is a procedure you have to follow, so that does not matter. You have to be able to account for it [the lobster catch],” Ashley said sternly, before ordering McIntosh to pay a fine of $10,000 or spend 10 days in prison.
Under Jamaican law, the closed season for lobster fishing runs from April 1 to June 30 each year, during which time it is illegal to catch, buy or sell lobster. Offenders may be fined up to $3 million or spend two years in prison, a penalty which was implemented in 2017.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, persons who plan to have spiny lobster or their parts or products in storage or for sale during the closed season must send a signed declaration of same to the Licensing Authority by March 31. A certificate of storage will then be issued following a visit to the storage site by a fishery inspector.
Concerning spiny lobster which have been in storage between April 1 and 21 and have been declared to the Licensing Authority, they may be sold, exported or processed during that period, but it is illegal to possess spiny lobster parts after April 21.