Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

Jamaica Artisanal spiny lobster - Island shelf and proximal banks
Fishery  Fact Sheet
WECAFC Fishery Resources Report 2016
Jamaica Artisanal spiny lobster - Island shelf and proximal banks
Fact Sheet Citation  
Caribbean Spiny lobster fishery - artisanal
Owned byFood and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – more>>

Overview: The spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) is widely distributed in the coastal waters and on the offshore banks around Jamaica. This resource is a delicacy and therefore highly priced and lobsters represents an important component of the total landings of the Jamaican commercial fishery. There are six types of lobsters that are found in Jamaican waters where Panulirus guttatus and Panulirus argus are the only two species that are commercially valuable. Large concentration of lobsters is found on the Pedro Banks and along the southern shelf. Artisanal fishers use a variety of gears including Antillean Z-traps, diving (free lung, SCUBA and Hookah) and gill nets. The lobster caught by artisanal fishers is sold to the catering/tourist industry and households as well as some also go to the processing plants for export.

Location of Jamaica Artisanal spiny lobster - Island shelf and proximal banks

Geographic reference:  Jamaica
Spatial Scale: National
Reference year: 2015
Approach: Fishing Activity

Fishing Activity
Fishing Gear: Pots
Type of production system: Subsistence; Artisanal
Fishery Area: Jamaica

Seasonality: July to March

Harvested Resource
Target Species: Caribbean spiny lobster

Means of Production
Vessel Type: Fishing vessels not specified
Fishery Indicators
Nominal Effort: Number of vessels
Employment: Number of fishermen

Fishing Activity
Type of production system: Subsistence; Artisanal   

Fishery Area
Bottom type: Coral reef; Soft bottom clean sand.   Depth zone: Coastal - Close shore, littoral (0 m - 20 m).   Vertical distribution: Benthic.  

Fishers tend to go to areas that have coral heads or rocks to set traps.

Geo References
Vessel Type
Fishing vessels not specified
Catch Handling and Processing Equipment
Flag State
Fishing Gear
Fish pot or Antillean ¨Z¨- shape traps. Free and SCUBA diving, spearguns.
Related Fisheries - Fishery(ies) switching activity seasonally or targeting the same stock
Jamaica Industrial queen conch fishery - Shallow waters and offshore banks
July to March

Environmental limitations

Hurricanes, bad weather or sea conditions may affect harvest levels.
Trip Duration
2-8 hrs
List of fishery Indicators
Fishery Indicators
TypeMeasureValueUnitTime period
Nominal EffortNumber of vessels 18 artisanal (canoe) vesselvessels2014
EmploymentNumber of fishermen 240Persons2015
Post Harvest
Fish Utilisation
Whole lobster
Management unit: Yes

Jurisdictional framework
Management Body/Authority(ies): National Fisheries Advisory Committee
Mandate: Management.  
Area of Competence: Jamaica
Maritime Area: Archipelagic Zone.  
Management Body/Authority(ies): Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
Mandate: Management.  
Area of Competence: Jamaica
Maritime Area: Archipelagic Zone.  
Management Regime
Management Methods

Fisheries Regulations with focus on spawner/juvenile protection, fish size limit - Binding

  • Aquatic species-related measures
    Minimun legal size (Carapace length of 76 mm).
  • Gear-related measures
    Gear type, gear dimension, mesh size.
  • Fishing activity-related measures
    Prohibited capture of berried and undersize lobster.
Source of Information
Fisheries Division of Jamaica, Ministry of Agriculture. Personal communication, January 2016.  Click to open
Cooke-Panton, K. 2014. An analysis of Puerulus settlement of the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) stock in Jamaica with practical management recommendations.
Morris, R. A. 2011. A Bioeconomic analysis of the jamaican industrial Spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) fishery. United Nations University, Fisheries Training Programme.  Click to open
Martin-Murray, A. 2010. The use of production models and length frequency data in stock assessments in Jamaica fisheries, building on the Caribbean spiny lobster observations. [Unpublished/manuscript]. United Nations University, Fisheries Training Programme.
Kellym R. Report on the spiny lobster fishery in Jamaica. In Report of the second workshop on the management of Caribbean spiny lobster fisheries in the WECAFC Area. Havana, Cuba, 30 September - 4 October 2002. FAO Fisheries Report/FAO Informe de Pesca. No. 715. Rome. FAO, 2003. 273p.  Click to open
Gittens, L.G. 2001. An assessment of recent (1996-2000) biological and socioeconomic characteristics of the Jamaican lobster (Panulirus argus) fishery, with implications for future management. MSc. Thesis, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Barbados.
Aiken, K. 1997. Jamaica spiny lobster investigations. FAO Fish. Rep. 200: 11-22.
Haughton, M.O. and King, D.P.F. 1989. Stock Assessment of the spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) in Jamaica. Proc. Gulf Carib. Fish. Inst. 42:119-126.
Aiken, K. 1984. Lobsters – Their biology and conservation in Jamaica. Jamaica Journal. 17(4):44-17.
Aiken, K. 1983. Further investigation of the Jamaican spiny lobster fishery. FAO Fish. Rep. No. 278, suppl:177-191.
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