Last Lobster Meal Before Close Season

Lobster lovers, take note: if you visit Jamaica between today and June 30th, there will not be an ounce of lobster on any menu anywhere on the island.

The close season started officially on April 1st and coincides with the peak breeding period. If you’re lucky enough to arrive before April 21st, you might be able to find some lobster as the government allows businesses to register by March 31st any stocks they might have. That stock can be used until April 21st.

Jamaican spiny lobster
Jamaican lobster

During the close season, it is illegal to catch, buy or sell lobsters. And any lobsters caught unintentionally in fishing traps must be returned to the sea. It is also illegal to be in possession of lobster parts or products, whether they are fresh or frozen. The penalties include 6 months in jail or a fine of J$100,000 (about US$1,000).

The Jamaican lobster is really a large crayfish. (A few weeks ago, I left a comment at A Taste of Travel.  They have the same crayfish in Australia that we call lobster here.)  It doesn’t have big claws like lobsters from Maine and the meat is a bit firmer. However it is prepared in the same way you would a regular lobster: grilled, steamed, curried, jerked, or used in soups and salads.

Until my neighbor reminded me, I’d totally forgotten about the few pounds I’ve had frozen since last December. Since I didn’t want to run afoul of the law, I decided to fix the lobster for dinner on Sunday, the last day we’re allowed legally to have it in our possession. Here’s how I prepared it.

Coconut Lobster
Coconut Lobster

Coconut Lobster

3 lbs. lobster
4 stalks escallion (spring onions), chopped finely
3 sprigs of thyme
1 small onion, chopped
1 or 2 small tomatoes, diced
1 small Scotch Bonnet pepper (leave whole. Remove seeds and cut into small pieces, if you want more fire)
1 can coconut milk
Salt, pepper to taste


Hold the lobster body firmly with one hand, the tail with the other. Turn the tail until it separates from the body. Take a pair kitchen shears or a sharp knife and cut down the center of the tail. Use your fingers or the knife to pry the meat from the shell.
Remove the vein from the tail. Wash, cut into 1” pieces and set aside.
Sauté chopped onions, shallots, tomatoes and pepper
Add lobster, and salt and pepper to taste
Sauté until the pieces become white
Add coconut milk, whole Scotch Bonnet pepper and thyme
Let cook for 3 minutes or until done

Serve over your favorite vegetables

What foods do you look forward to eating when you travel?

23 comments on “Last Lobster Meal Before Close Season

  1. I have quite a bit of travel planned in the Maritimes this summer and very much look forward to one lobster themed dish after another. I’m curious though – are you not even allowed to have frozen lobster in your possession? Your recipe sounds delicious but then anything with a combo of 2 of my favourite foods would – lobster & coconut.

  2. Yum, yum, yum. Sounds wonderful, Leigh. I love lobster, and like you, I eat it as often as I can.
    No, no frozen parts allowed but it’s impossible to police every household and commercial establishment.
    Hope you get to try it or find some in your travels.

  3. Hi Marcia, your lobster dish sound yummy. It’s good to know that your government enforce strict regulations to protect lobsters and their production.
    When I travel I look forward to eating local dish made from local produce or catch. I definitely would love to try those lobsters when I visit Jamaica.

  4. This looks and sounds so delicious, Marcia! It\’s very interesting to find out about lobster season laws in Jamaica. I\’m a lobster lover so I have to try this one of these days. I wish I was going to the eastern part of the US this summer for some lobsters. I look forward to eating local pastries when traveling 🙂

  5. I had no idea they had such strict fines for illegal “lobster” fishing. But I can understand it. And thankfully, it is enforced.

    I always love eating shell fish with coconut, so your recipe would be perfect for me. I especially love the coconut crab from the South Pacific. And for lobster, I love it with Mac and Cheese (with white cheese). Sadly, however, I’ve only tasted the frozen ones. Maybe one day, it’ll be fresh.

  6. We too have a closed season over winter. Licences are also restricted for commercial boats wanting to fish the waters off Western Australia and there is a limit to the amount of crayfish and their size that you are allowed to catch in the season. It works well in making sure we have crayfish every season. I’d love to vist and try your lobster!

  7. Oh, that looks good! I’m really surprised by the “close season” — especially that you can’t have any frozen lobster. Glad you remembered the stuff you had frozen. Whew! Interesting.

  8. Ooh, that looks so good ! I love to sample ‘local’ food when I travel, we just came back from Holland and I finally tasted the delicious Dutch version of pancakes from baby to gian 🙂
    Thank you for visiting

  9. Sorry, Michele. I think i was going through a food phase myself, eating everything in sight!
    But fresh food’s so good, hard to resist.

  10. It’s one way to make sure the population replenishes itself. I don’t think people would obey if there weren’t stiff penalties.

  11. I think the government decided a total ban was better than a partial one — people could come up with excuses why they had it, etc.
    This way, no one can say they didn’t know. My interpretation.

  12. I’m all for it, as we have to ensure that there’s enough for us and future generations.
    That’s a great idea, Jenny. I’d love to visit and try yours too. Isn’t it interesting that we have the same type of crayfish/lobster?

  13. Hope you get to taste fresh lobster, Sherry. It’s so flavorful, you could just eat it with butter and it’d be delicious.
    Coconut goes well with so many things, but I’ve never had lobster with Mac and Cheese. I’ll have to try that one of these days.

  14. I hope you get some lobsters this summer, Mary. Because I’m always on the east coast, I never thought of where you guys on the west got your lobsters from. And pastries, love getting those too where ever I go.

  15. Hope you get to try the recipe, Marisol and sample some lobster here soon.
    It’s a good thing to replenish supplies so we can have enough now and in the future.

  16. I wanna try Jamaican lobster! It’s been almost a moth since its season closed. Nice one! I start craving for a lobster now! 🙂

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