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What You Need To Know Before Hitting The Water For Lobster Mini-Season

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Florida Spiny Lobster (Source: CBS4)

Florida Spiny Lobster (Source: CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Dust off your nets and tickle sticks, South Florida, the 2014 mini-season is around the corner.

The season opener for lobster season is set for July 30 and the 31st, followed by the regular commercial and recreational lobster season which starts August 6th and runs through March 31st.

If you plan on heading out in-search of these tasty crustaceans, here is what you need to know before you go:

How to measure a lobster (Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

How to measure a lobster (Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Before taking the lobster out of the water, be sure to measure. If the carapace length is no longer than three inches, the lobster must be left in the water.

To protect the next generation of lobsters, and increase your chances of catching these creatures in the future, the harvesting of egg-bearing females is prohibited. . Lobsters have hundreds of thousands of eggs that are easily visible and attached under the tail. While most lobsters have completed reproduction by the start of the fishing season, finding lobsters with eggs is common in July and August.

Bring a cooler big enough to hold the lobster as the animal must remain in whole condition until they are brought to shore. Also, do not take spiny lobster with any device that might puncture, penetrate or crush its shell.

Stick to the bag and possession limits. During the mini-season, recreational divers and snorkelers can take up to six lobsters per person daily in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park waters and 12 lobsters per person daily in other Florida waters.

Lobster-catchers may possess no more than daily bag limit of lobsters when on the water. When off the water, you may possess no more than daily than the daily bag limit on the first day of the sport season and no more than double the daily bag limit on the second day.

During the August 6th to March 31st regular season, the daily recreational bag and on-the-water possession limit is six spiny lobsters per person.

Once the sun goes down, diving for lobsters in Monroe County is not allowed.

Lobster harvest is always prohibited in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Spiny Lobster Sanctuary, certain areas of John Pennekamp State Park, and no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

During the two-day season, all harvest of lobster is prohibited throughout John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Be sure to have the proper paperwork while on the water. A recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit are required to recreationally harvest spiny lobsters unless you are exempt from recreational license requirements. Information about these licenses and permits is available online at MyFWC.com/License.

Also, while looking for lobster, how about doing double duty and removing invasive lionfish which are often found in the same areas as spiny lobster. Lionfish negatively impact Florida’s native wildlife and habitat.

Divers, even those who wade in, should stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down symbol (red with a white diagonal stripe) on a flag or buoy when in open water and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or buoy if on a river, inlet or navigation channel. Boat operators must slow to idle speed if they need to travel within 300 feet of a divers-down flag or buoy in open water or 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel.

Divers-down flags displayed on vessels must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches, and a stiffener is required to keep the flag unfurled. The flag must be displayed from the highest point of the vessel, must be visible from all directions and must be displayed only when divers are in the water. So when the divers are out of the water, don’t forget to take it down. Divers-down symbols towed by divers must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. More information on divers-down flag requirements is available online at MyFWC.com/Boating by clicking on “Boating Regulations.”

Additional information on recreational spiny lobster fishing, including how to measure spiny lobster, is available online at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Lobster.”

Want a check of the weather before heading out on the water? Click here to download the CBSMiami Weather App for forecasts and updates on-the-go. 

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