MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Divers planning on heading south for the two day lobster mini-season this week should take some time to familiarize themselves with do’s and don’ts of bug hunting in the Keys.
Hundreds of divers are expected to hit the water during the mini-seaon which runs July 29th and 30th.
According to state law, during the two-day sport lobster season, divers and snorkelers can take up to six lobsters per person daily in Monroe County.
The lobsters must have a carapace length greater than 3 inches to be legally taken during the open season. Divers must possess a measuring device, and lobsters must be in the water while they are measured.
Taking egg-bearing females is prohibited.
The spiny lobsters must remain in whole condition until they are brought to shore. Any device that might puncture, penetrate or crush the shell of the lobster may not be used.
Night diving for spiny lobsters during the two-day sport season is not allowed in Monroe County. Additionally, there is no lobster hunting 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.
You must have a recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit unless you are exempt from recreational license requirements.
During the two day sport season, the Monroe Co. Sheriff’s Office will have extra patrols at boat ramps, bridges and on the water. Anyone caught with illegal lobster will be charged accordingly.
“We enjoy all the visitors here in the Keys during the two day sport season,” said Sheriff Ramsay. “But we want to make sure everyone is aware of the law, and is behaving in a responsible, and safe, manner.”
The sheriff’s office said marine thefts have become a real problem and thieves may see the two day sport season as an opportunity to target people who aren’t being careful with their valuables. Make sure you remove electronics, fishing and diving gear from your boat when you aren’t on it and store this valuable equipment somewhere secure.