The spiny lobster is an $80 million dollar industry in the Bahamas. The question on everyone's mind, though, is how long will this resource last? The World Wildlife Fund in conjunction with local business owners and The Nature Conservancy have set out to establish a Fisheries Improvement Plan (FIP) in order to collect the data on catch size and enforcement to obtain the coveted approval of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
Spanish Wells is a small island in the Bahamas, about half the size of Central Park. Known as the capital of spiny lobster fishers, this island oasis docks a fleet of large boats specially designed to haul large loads of lobster tails. At sea for 3-5 weeks at a time, the crew goes out to harvest lobster from submerged structures called condos or casitas. With GPS marking over 30,000 of these artificial habitats across the Bahamas, business is good.
Using hookah hoses attached to generators on the smaller search vessels, divers scour the casitas for lobster and return to the boats to immediately freeze and store the harvest. Any undersize lobster is left for next season.
Fishers, local government and wholesalers are hoping that with increased management and industry cooperation, the Bahamian lobster fishery will continue to produce for generations to come.