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Diving & Boating Safety Stressed Ahead Of Lobster Mini-Season

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(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s time to melt some butter and grab your lobster bib.  It’s nearly time for Florida’s annual lobster mini-season which means your office may be a bit short of staff for the next couple of days.

At the stroke of midnight on Wednesday, July 25th, thousands of South Florida divers will hit the water for Florida’s annual lobster mini-season.

Law enforcement is expecting large crowds of lobster lovers to hit the water for two days of lobster harvesting.

“By all accounts, the biologists are saying that it’s going to be a banner year for lobster,” said Jorge Pino from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

That’s great news for divers seeking the delicious crustaceans but before heading to the water, officials want to make sure boaters stay safe.

“We want to send a clear and concise message: safety, safety, safety. If you’re not prepared to go in the water this year, don’t do it,” stated Pino.

Law enforcement officers from various agencies including FWC lobster-sniffing K9, will be out in force to make sure no one is breaking any rules.

At FWC headquarters in North Miami, officials gave a demonstration Tuesday of how their specially trained K9 will find hidden lobsters if divers try to sneak more in.

  • The lobster limit is 6 per person per day for Monroe County and Biscayne National Park and 12 per person per day for the rest of Florida.
  • Night diving is prohibited in Monroe County (only during the sport season).
  • The lobster carapace must be 3″ or larger, measured in the water.
  • Possession and use of a measuring device is required at all times.
  • Harvest of lobster is prohibited in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park during the sport season and in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, and no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary during both the 2-day sport season and regular season.

Click here for a Guide to Florida’s Lobster Mini-Season.

While there are plenty of rules about lobster hunting, boaters also need to make sure their vessels are in good working order.

“File a float plan, make sure your vessel is in good working order, make sure people know exactly where they are going, make sure you have all the proper safety equipment. And most importantly, if you’re going to be a diver this year, the Coast Guard really wants to stress this, dive with a buddy. If you’re not an experienced diver or skin diver don’t do this at night,” said Joe Abeyta of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Law enforcement officials will also be cracking down on those who are boating while intoxicated.

The special two-day spiny lobster sport season begins at midnight, July 25 and lasts for just 48 hours, ending at 12:00 midnight Thursday. It’s followed by the regular 8-month lobster season which is always Aug. 6 through March 31.

The special two-day sport season occurs on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July each year to let recreational harvesters collect spiny lobsters before commercial lobster traps are placed in the water on Aug 1.

And if you need more information, just click here for the FWC website for additional rules, regulations and important information about lobster mini-season.

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