GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Inspectorate of Ministry Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunications (TEATT), is reminding the business community to apply for their permit before the November 30, 2019 deadline in accordance with the Lobster Ordinance which regulates the sale and purchasing of the spiny lobster within the country.
Any person (natural or legal) who buys lobsters for the purpose of selling, trading, delivering, transporting, importing or exporting, is required to have a permit issued by Ministry TEATT. The Ordinance is not a new law but has been in existence since 1963 going back to the former Netherlands Antilles.
The Ordinance is not intended to restrict the trade in lobster, but to sustainably manage and protect this important national fisheries sector resource.
This species supports a valuable commercial fishery sector and is also harvested by recreational fishers.
Those required to have a permit include wholesale seafood vendors (middlemen) who resell lobsters to restaurants; restaurant establishments are also required to have a permit as they resell the lobster to customers.
The permit is valid for a two-year period. There is currently no fee attached to the permit.
A grace period is currently in place until November 30, 2019 for restaurants and wholesale seafood vendors who sell lobster products, allowing those who sell this product to apply for a permit.
Those interested in requesting a permit should get in contact with the Department of Economic Licenses, window B at the Government Administration Building. Guidance will be provided with respect to the process. An application letter addressed to the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications is part of the process.
Wholesale seafood vendors and Restaurants will be required not to purchase juvenile lobsters from suppliers. Once the grace period has expired, the Inspectorate Ministry TEATT will start enforcement of the Ordinance to ensure that those persons selling, trading, delivering, transporting, importing or exporting the spiny lobster have a permit and that they are adhering to the permit stipulations.
Inspectors will be checking the size of lobsters in restaurant holding tanks to make sure those that have been harvested are in compliance with the Lobster Ordinance.
Once the grace period is over on November 30, 2019, the Inspectorate of Ministry TEATT will also be carrying out controls to make sure that restaurants who have lobster on their menu for their customers are in possession of the permit.
Ministry TEATT did announce a zero-tolerance approach with respect to the national regulations and laws that are in place, and adherence and compliance to these ensures safety and security of all residents and the sustainable use of the country’s natural resources.
Representatives from the Inspectorate Ministry TEATT will be providing additional information to the community via the media over the next few weeks about the Lobster Ordinance and the application process.