MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Get ready to grab your tickle stick, Florida divers and lobster lovers will begin diving the depths for the state’s annual two-day lobster mini-season.
The recreational mini-season begins 12:00 a.m. July 24th and ends at 12:00 a.m. July 25th. It’s followed by the regular commercial and recreational season, which starts Aug. 6 and runs through March 31, 2020.
“Spiny lobster season is an exciting time of year to be on the water,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Chairman Robert Spottswood. “But it’s also a time to remember safety on the water and to remember the importance of taking care around Florida’s important coral reefs.”
While Florida has three varieties of lobster, state wildlife officials say that most fishermen prefer the Florida spiny lobster, also known as the Caribbean spiny lobster. The spiny lobster inhabits tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
The best time to catch a Florida spiny lobster is at night since lobsters stay in their dens during daylight hours to avoid predators and only come out after dark to look for food.
According to state law, during the two-day sport lobster season, divers and snorkelers can take up to six lobsters per person day in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park, 12 per person per day for the rest of Florida.
The lobsters must have a carapace length greater than 3 inches to be legally taken during the open season. Divers must possess a measuring device, and lobsters must be in the water while they are measured.
Taking egg-bearing females is prohibited.
The spiny lobsters must remain in whole condition until they are brought to shore. Any device that might puncture, penetrate or crush the shell of the lobster may not be used.
Click Here for the rules of this year’s mini-season.
Night diving for spiny lobsters during the two-day sport season is not allowed in Monroe County. Additionally, there is no lobster hunting in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and in the Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary during both the 2-day sport season and regular season.
You must have a recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit unless you are exempt from recreational license requirements.
Safety equipment such as flares, life jackets, and fire extinguishers are required to be onboard the vessel.
Dive flags must be utilized a with measurement of 20 x 24 inches mounted on the highest point of boat, and 12 x 12 inches if the flag is in the water.
Joseph Grosso resurfaced unconscious while diving for lobsters back in 2014. The 22-year-old went diving without a partner. The most important rule to abide by say officials is to stay safe.