Anyone using Cayman waters is obliged to familiarise themselves with the applicable boating, marine and environmental laws.
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The purpose of these laws is to preserve Cayman’s marine environment for generations to come. Breaches of the law are treated as serious offences and anyone committing an offence against the Marine Conservation Law and its regulations is liable to a maximum fine of CI$500,000, a year’s imprisonment or both.
The Department of Environment (DoE) have put in place open and closed seasons on various species as a means of ensuring the long-term and sustainable use of our marine resources.
In August 2016, improvements were made to the Cayman Islands Fisheries Regulations. All of the species rules now make both taking and possession illegal outside of the open seasons. This means that both the person taking marine life illegally and the person receiving/purchasing this marine life will be committing an offense. This is a loophole that marine park officers, and the public who support conservation, have struggled with for a while.
Marine Park Zone
Cayman’s Marine Parks were put in place in 1985. Due to environmental stressors, such as declining fish populations, reef degradation, climate change, rapid population growth and development, it is extremely important for the Marine Parks to be expanded in the near future for the fish population to remain sustainable.
You cannot take any marine life, whether alive or dead, within a Marine Park Zone. Line fishing from shore is permitted, as is line fishing at depths of 80ft or more. Taking fry and sprat with a fry or cast net is allowed.
NOTE: fish traps, spear guns, pole spears and other nets are totally prohibited. No anchoring is permitted; only the use of fixed mooring is allowed. The exception to this is: boats of 60ft or less may anchor in sand, so long as no grappling hook is used and neither the anchor nor the rope or chain will impact coral. Anchoring is also permitted in designated Port anchorage areas – contact Port Security on VHF channel 16 – and anchoring prohibitions are suspended during emergencies and by permission of the Port Director.
In Bloody Bay, Little Cayman, special restrictions have been placed on the use of the Bloody Bay Marine Park; no commercial operations may use the park without a licence.
Map of Protected Marine Areas in the Cayman Islands
Wildlife Interaction Zones (WIZ)
In Wildlife Interaction Zones the rules are as follows:
- No taking any marine life by any means
- No selling fish food from boats
- No removing of any marine life from the water
- No anchoring in water shallower than three feet or so that the anchor or boat is within 20ft of any reef structure
- No feeding any marine life with food of any kind or amount other than that approved by the National Conservation Council
- Fish feeding is prohibited anywhere in Cayman waters outside of a designated WIZ unless licensed by the National Conservation Council
- No wearing any footwear in water shallower than four feet
Special conditions apply to commercial boats who must have a licence issued by the National Conservation Council and clearly displayed on the boat to enter this area.
Environmental Zone Regulations
Restrictions in the Environmental zone are strictly enforced. No marine life, whether alive or dead, can be taken. There are no exceptions.
No in-water activities are permitted. The public may only access the zone at speeds of five mph or less and there is no anchoring of any boat. Please note that line fishing, fish traps, nets and spear guns are totally prohibited.
Replenishment Zone Regulations
The DoE marine regulations in these zones include no taking of conch or lobster by any means; line fishing and anchoring are permitted (see Restrictions of Fishing section in this chapter) as long as anchors, chains or lines do not impact coral; spear guns, pole spears, fish traps and nets are prohibited (except that fry and sprat may be taken with a fry or cast net). Taking conch or lobster from this zone by any means is prohibited. These zones include the outside edge of the reef to a depth of 20ft.
Always be mindful of the season restrictions and the catch limits. Lobster season is closed from 1st March-30th November. Conch season is closed from 1st May-31st October.
Lobster catch limits in open season are three per person, per day or six per boat, per day, whichever is less. Lobster tails must be a minimum size of six inches. Conch catch limits are five per person per day or 10 per boat per day, whichever is less. Whelk season is closed 1st May-31 October and the catch limit is two-and-a-half gallons in the shell or two-and-a half pounds of processed whelks. Echinoderms (including starfish, sea eggs, urchins, sea cucumbers, sand dollars etc.) may not be taken from Cayman waters at any time. For more information read on:Read More
Designated Grouper Spawning Areas
In accordance with DoE regulations, the designated areas are: Coxswain Bank and South West Point in Grand Cayman; East and West End of Cayman Brac, Little Cayman and the Twelve Mile Bank. We discourage you from catching grouper as they have been over fished and the population has been severely depleted.