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Lobster Mini-Season

Measuring a spine lobster.

The spiny lobster sport season will fall on July 30th (Wednesday) and 31th (Thursday) for 2008. The bag limits are 6 per person per day for Monroe County and Biscayne National Park, and 12 per person per day for the rest of Florida.  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 are enforced on and off the water. Spiny lobster has a minimum size limit that must be larger than 3" carapace, measured in the water.  A reminder that possession and use of a measuring device is required at all times, and night diving is prohibited in Monroe County (only during the sport season). A recreational saltwater license and a crawfish permit are needed for harvest. Regular spiny lobster season is August 6 through March 31. The bag limit is 6 per person per day. Harvest of lobster is prohibited in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park during the sport season.  Harvest is also prohibited 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.  Call (305) 743-2437 or visit www.fknms.nos.noaa.gov for information about no take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Click here for Recreational Lobster Harvesting Regulations for Monroe County.

 LOBSTER BAG LIMITS

 

Monroe County

Biscayne National Park

Elsewhere

2-Day Sport Season (July 30 –31)

6 per person per day

6 per person per day

12 per person per day

Regular Season (August 6 – March 31)

6 per person per day

6 per person per day

6 per person per day

Regardless of what species you are fishing for, bag limits are only for properly licensed individuals and those people exempt from license requirements who are actively harvesting, and those people harvesting may not exceed their individual bag limit and take someone else’s bag limit. That is, people (including children) who are not actively harvesting or are not properly licensed (if a license is required) may NOT be counted for purposes of bag limits.

More About Spiny Lobster

Commonly referred to as the Florida spiny lobster, the Caribbean spiny lobster inhabits tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.

Sm. Lobster Image

Commonly referred to as the Florida spiny lobster, the Caribbean spiny lobster inhabits tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Spiny lobsters get their name from the forward-pointing spines that cover their bodies to help protect them from predators. They vary in color from almost white to dark red-orange. Two large, cream-colored spots on the top of the second segment of the tail make spiny lobsters easy to identify. They have long antennae over their eyes that they wave to scare off predators and smaller antennae-like structures called antennules that sense movement and detect chemicals in the water.

Adult spiny lobsters make their homes in the protected crevices and caverns of coral reefs, sponge flats, and other hard-bottomed areas. The lobsters spawn from March through August and female lobsters carry the bright orange eggs on their undersides until they turn brown and hatch. Larvae can be carried for thousands of miles by currents until they settle in shallow nearshore areas among seagrass and algae beds. They feed on small snails and crabs. The lobsters are solitary until they reach the juvenile stage, when they begin to congregate around protective habitat in nearshore areas. As they begin to mature, spiny lobsters migrate from the nursery areas to offshore reefs.

Lobsters stay in their dens during daylight hours to avoid predators, emerging a couple of hours after dark to forage for food. While lobsters will eat almost anything, their favorite diet consists mostly of snails, clams, crabs, and urchins. The lobsters return to the safety of their dens several hours before sunrise.

The recreational fishery for the spiny lobster begins in July with a two-day sport season. This season is the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July each year. The regular season opens August 6 and closes March 31. All recreational harvesters of spiny lobsters must possess a valid saltwater fishing license and a crawfish stamp. Spiny lobster is a regulated species and harvest is limited to lobsters with a carapace over three inches in length. The animal must be measured while still in the water. Females carrying eggs are not to be harvested. Recreational harvest during the two-day sport season in Monroe County is limited to six lobsters per person per day. Night diving for spiny lobsters in Monroe County during the sport season is prohibited. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Monroe County is closed to spiny lobster harvest during the two-day sport season. Recreational harvest outside of Monroe County during the two-day sport season is limited to 12 lobsters per person per day. Recreational harvest during the regular season is limited to six lobsters per person or 24 per boat, whichever is greater. Spearing lobsters is never allowed.

It takes a spiny lobster about two years to grow to the three-inch carapace legal-harvesting size and they can grow as large as 15 pounds. The typical recreational harvest is 1.5 to 2 million pounds between the start of the two-day sport season and Labor Day. The commercial harvest averages 6 million pounds per season, with an average annual value of $20 million. Measured in dollars, the spiny lobster fishery is the largest commercial fishery in Florida.

Pavan @ Copenhagen Wreck

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