The 2012 recreational and commercial spiny lobster seasons will open soon, beginning with the two-day spiny lobster recreational season July 25 and 26. The regular commercial and recreational lobster season starts Aug. 6 and runs through March 31.
The special two-day season occurs on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July each year to let recreational fishermen collect spiny lobsters before commercial lobster traps are placed in the water. 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, and divers must possess a measuring device and measure all lobsters in the water.
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 – March 31 regular season, the daily recreational bag and on-the-water possession limit is six spiny lobsters per person.
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.
Divers and snorkelers must display a “divers-down” flag (red with a white diagonal stripe) while in the water. 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. Dive flags carried on floats must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. Divers must make reasonable efforts to stay within 300 feet of a divers-down flag on open waters and within 100 feet of a flag within rivers, inlets or navigation channels. 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. 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.”
Logo courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife