Lobster Mini Season 2013 Opens Today: Rules you Need to Know
Two-day lobster mini-season has begun for South Florida.
For the next two days, recreational divers are free to dive and catch the little arthropods straight off the beach or a boat.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says this allows for thousands to enjoy Florida's resources. But spokesman Jorge Pino also cautions divers to follow the rules — there are size requirements and bag limits a person can take home of these lobsters.
In the Florida Keys (Monroe County) and Biscayne National Park the limit per person per day is 6, as opposed to South Florida which is 12 per person per day. South Florida Reefs are not as crowded as the Keys and the hotels do not raise their rates for "Mini Lobster Season".
Another rule to follow, the carapace, or main body of the lobster, not including the head and tail - must be larger than three inches, measured in the water and you are required to have a measuring device with at all times.
Law enforcement officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Coast Guard, and numerous local police agencies have posted a heavy presence on local waterways and at boat ramps and marinas, checking boaters’ safety equipment and ensuring they’re not abusing marine resources.
At least a half-dozen lobster divers were cited in the days leading up to Wednesday’s opener for jumping the gun in Miami-Dade and Monroe county waters, according to FWC spokesman Jorge Pino.
Authorities also urge divers to be weary of current conditions and to stay hydrated.
Gear you will need:
- Mask, fins, snorkel (or your dive gear)
- Tickle sticks with measurer attached
- Catch bag
*Remember put your name on your gear
- Only 12 lobsters per person per day may be taken in Broward and Miami Dade Counties with the exception of Biscayne National Park.
- Only 6 lobsters may be taken per person per day in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park. No lobsters may be taken from the lobster sanctuary in Biscayne National Park.
- Lobsters cannot be taken from the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park during the 2-day season.
- The possession limit on the water is equal to the daily bag limit, and off the water is equal to the daily bag limit on the first day and double the daily bag limit on the second day.
- Possession limits will be strictly enforced on and off the water.
- Night diving during the two-day sport season is not allowed in Monroe County.
- Lobsters cannot be taken during both the 2-day sport season and regular season in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, and no take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
- Divers are not allowed to use equipment that could puncture the lobster’s shell; including spears, hooks, and wire snares.
- Divers and snorkelers are required to display a “divers-down” flag (red with a white diagonal stripe) while in the water.
- Spiny lobster has a minimum size limit that must be larger than 3″ carapace, measured in the water.
- Egg-bearing lobsters must be released unharmed. You can recognize the eggs by an orange, yellow, brown, or red mass found covering the bottom of the lobster’s tail.
- Possession and use of a measuring device is required at all times.
- Unless exempt, a recreational saltwater fishing license and a lobster permit are required to harvest spiny lobster.
- Licenses are available through dive shops, many tackle shops, and marine supply stores. They are also available through the FWC website.
- Regular spiny lobster season is August 6 through March 31. The bag limit is 6 per person per day.
The State of Florida years ago created a short sportsman season to allow recreational users to catch lobsters prior to traps being deployed and commercial season beginning. This season became known to divers and snorkelers all over the world as "Mini Lobster Season". Over the years Mini Lobster Season has been modified several times over the years to account for changes in lobster stock assessments. The season lasts 48 hours after which it closes and regular lobster season opens 9 days later, August 6.
2-day Lobster Mini-Season Begins
The two-day lobster mini-season begins Wednesday, but state authorities say there are some rules that need to be followed.
Mini Lobster Season Florida Keys 2013
Opening night of Mini Season in the Florida Keys, July 24, 2013