Spiny lobster seasons begin soon
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Media contact: Amanda Nalley, 850-410-4943
The 2013 recreational and commercial spiny lobster seasons will open soon, beginning with the two-day spiny lobster recreational season July 24 and 25. The regular commercial and recreational lobster season starts Aug. 6 and runs through March 31.
The two-day sport season occurs on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July each year (July 24 and 25, 2013). Commercial fishermen may begin putting their traps in the water Aug. 1, and recreational and commercial fishermen may harvest spiny lobsters starting Aug. 6.
Spiny lobsters must have a carapace length greater than 3 inches to be taken during the open seasons. Divers must possess a measuring device, and lobsters must be in the water while they are measured.
Harvest of egg-bearing females is prohibited. Spiny lobsters must remain in whole condition until they are brought to shore. Harvesters cannot use any device that might puncture, penetrate or crush the shell of the lobster.
During the two-day spiny lobster sport 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. You can possess no more than the daily bag limit of lobsters when you are on the water. When you are off the water, you can possess the daily bag limit on the first day and double the daily bag limit on the second day. Possession limits are enforced on and off the water during the two-day sport season.
Night diving for spiny lobsters during the two-day sport season is not allowed in Monroe County, and all harvest of lobsters is prohibited in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park during the two-day season.
Lobster harvest is also prohibited at all times in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Spiny Lobster Sanctuary, certain areas in Pennekamp Park, and no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
During the Aug. 6 to March 31 regular season, the daily recreational bag and on-the-water possession limit is six spiny lobsters per person.
While diving, spiny lobster harvesters may encounter nonnative, invasive lionfish. FWC encourages people to remove lionfish to limit negative impacts to native fish and wildlife. There is no bag limit for the nonnative, invasive lionfish.
You must have a recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit 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.
Be safe when diving or snorkeling for spiny lobsters and when boating around other divers. Be sure to stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag (red with a white diagonal stripe) when in open water and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag if on a river, inlet or navigation channel. Boat operators must slow to idle speed when traveling within 300 feet of a divers-down flag 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 and must be visible from all directions. When divers are out of the water, the flag must not be displayed. Dive flags carried on floats 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.”