MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Every year hundreds of boaters and divers take part in the popular two lobster mini-season.
This year it runs from midnight Wednesday through midnight Thursday. 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:
Before taking the lobster out of the water, be sure to measure.
“This is called the carapace which is the head if the lobster. From this point right here next to the eyes, to the back of the carapace has to be three inches long. If it’s any shorter than three inches, leave the lobster alone and comeback and catch it next year,” said Jorge Pino with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
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. So how do you tell if a lobster is pregnant?
“The bottom of the lobster will be full of caviar if you will, small or age little eggs,” said Pino.
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.
Lobster harvest is 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.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office remind residents and visitors alike to keep an eye on their gear.
Every year during the two day sport lobster season, sheriff’s deputies get numerous reports about fishing and dive gear taken from houses, condos, hotels and boats. Usually, the gear is left unattended. Many times people report they left the gear outside to dry after a boating trip and returned to find it gone.
Keep this in mind and make sure you don’t leave valuable dive and fishing gear unattended at any time. It would be a shame to have your trip ruined by a thief who sneaks onto your boat at night and takes your fishing poles, or by someone coming underneath your house and taking your dive gear that is sitting outside to dry.
Another crime prevention tip: if you park your vehicle at a bridge approach, make sure you lock it and don’t leave valuables visible inside. We frequently get reports from people who have their vehicles burglarized while parked in these areas.
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.”
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