FLORIDA KEYS – Thousands of visitors have descended on the Florida Keys getting ready for an annual hunt to catch tasty Florida spiny lobster.
Keys officials want visitors as well as residents to have an enjoyable, safe, and non-impacting experience during the upcoming two-day lobster sport season, also known as lobster mini season, that begins at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and continues to midnight Thursday. The same applies to the traditional lobster harvesting season that begins on August 6.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials want lobster catchers to understand that some of the rules differ in the Keys versus other parts of the Florida mainland.
According to the FWC:
1. Bag limit is six lobsters per person, per day, all day in Monroe County (differs from other areas of Florida where 12 per person, per day, is permitted). No multi-trips on the same day.
2. Measure each lobster correctly, and measure while still in the water. The carapace (the hard part of the shell) must measure greater than three inches. If a lobster is too small, it must not be taken.
3. Use a dive flag. Put it up when diving and take it down when underway. Divers must stay within 300 feet of their dive flag (100 feet if in a channel).
4. It is prohibited to touch coral, bump corals with dive fins, stand on coral, or anchor a boat on coral.
The FWC emphasizes the importance of correctly measuring each lobster while in the water.
“You can only have six per person per day, and that goes for each person on your boat who is licensed,” said FWC officer Capt. David Dipre.
A dedicated website, KeysLobsterSeason.com, includes interactive videos with need-to-know dive and boating safety tips, up-to-date rules, regulations for lobster hunting within the Keys such as daily limits, and correct harvesting techniques.