Spiny lobster fisheries status across time and a mosaic of spatial management regimes

Alexander Tewfik, Elizabeth A. Babcock, Myles Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In Belize, the commercial harvest of spiny lobsters has occurred for ?100 years, provides critical livelihoods, and is the primary seafood export. We determined the first empirical estimate of size at maturity in Belize as well as eight fishery status indicators on several fishing grounds. The carapace lengths (CLs) at 50% maturity varied between males (98 mm) and females (86 mm) and are higher than the existing legal minimum of 76 mm. Time series analysis indicated decreasing proportions of mature individuals, decreasing size, and low spawning potential ratios (SPR) as well as high fishing mortality within fishing grounds. The pattern of decline in population status indicators across fishing grounds is consistent with a historical expansion of effort from north to south and offshore. Many indicators of population status within fishing grounds were improved with increasing area of replenishment zone and opposite to the historical expansion. However, overfishing is a problem across all areas examined. An increase in the legal minimum CL to 86 mm and examination of a maximum size limit will likely have significant positive effects on productivity and SPR, respectively, as well as protecting the pivotal role of spiny lobsters within the ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1002-1016
Number of pages15
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Belize
  • Panulirus argus
  • TURF
  • fishery
  • management
  • marine protected area
  • overfishing
  • population status indicators
  • size at maturity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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