The 2013 Spiny Lobster Sport Season (or Mini-Season) will occur on July 2425,
followed by the regular lobster season that begins Aug. 6 and runs through the end of March 2014. While there have been no significant changes to the basic harvest rules, many people that visit south Florida and the Keys are new to the sport, and most find the rules and geographic boundaries to be complex and confusing. Whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned veteran, a quick review of the basic information is never a bad idea!
Do I need a license or permit? Yes, unless you meet the established exemption requirements, you will need to purchase a Recreational Saltwater Fishing License and a $5 Lobster Permit. To purchase a recreational license online, please visit License.MyFWC.com
or call 1-888-347-4356. Licenses can also be purchased at county tax collectors offices or any retailers who sell licenses. Most marinas, bait and tackle stores and fishing equipment retailers in Florida are set up to sell saltwater licenses. To determine if you meet the established exemption criteria, please visit MyFWC.com/License
and click on Recreational Hunting and Fishing and Do I Need a License.What gear can I use for recreational harvest? Recreational gear includes hand-held landing or dip nets, bully-nets that do not exceed 3 feet in diameter, hoop nets that do not exceed 10 feet in diameter, and other devices that will not penetrate, puncture or crush the exoskeleton or flesh of the lobster. The use of chemicals, traps, spears or gigs to harvest lobster is prohibited. Standard equipment for most recreational harvesters includes a tickle stick and a dip net.Can I harvest at night? Recreational harvest at night is prohibited in all state and federal waters off Monroe County during the two-day sport season. Recreational diving for lobster at night is permitted outside Monroe County during the sport season and in all areas where lobster harvest is not prohibited during the regular harvest season.What is the recreational bag limit? During the two-day sport season, the recreational bag limit is six per harvester per day in Monroe County and in Biscayne National Park, and 12 per harvester per day in all other areas. During the regular harvest season, the recreational daily bag limit is six lobster per person in all areas.
Is a lobster with a 3 inch carapace legal? No! FWC rules provide that the carapace length must EXCEED 3 inches in length, as measured from the front edge of the carapace (between the rostral horns) to the rear edge of the carapace. Inexpensive lobster measuring devices are very helpful in accurately measuring a lobster and are available from most marinas and tackle stores in south Florida and the Keys. Because they must be measured while in the water, FWC rules require every diver to possess a measuring device while diving for lobster.
Are there areas that are closed to lobster harvest? Yes! If you are not a seasoned veteran who knows the area, please get a map to help you stay out of the closed areas while harvesting. All, or portions of, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne Bay-Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary and No Take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary are closed to lobster harvest. For additional information on rules, harvest techniques and closed areas, please visit the lobster information booth hosted by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Please also visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on Saltwater, Recreational Regulations and Monroe County Lobster.
Could I be attacked by aquatic lions while harvesting lobster? No, but you are likely to see a nonnative invasive lionfish while you are out there. For more information on the invasion and how you can help to protect Floridas reefs, please visit MyFWC.com/WildlifeHabitats and click on Nonnatives and Marine Species.
Are there other rules that I need to know about? Yes!
- The possession or harvest of any egg-bearing female lobster is prohibited.
- The use of artificial habitats of any kind to attract and concentrate lobsters is prohibited. If you see an artificial structure of any kind, please report the location to the FWC Division of Law Enforcement and do not harvest any lobster from the structure.
- A divers-down flag (red with a white diagonal stripe) is required while swimmers are in the water. For more information on boating safety, please visit MyFWC.com/Boating.