12 July 2023
FLORIDA KEYS — The annual two-day spiny lobster sport season and beginning of the traditional lobster harvesting season in the Florida Keys are only a few weeks away and area officials want visitors and residents to have an enjoyable, safe and environmentally non-impacting experience.
Locally dubbed “mini-season” because of its short duration, the statewide two-day sport harvesting period begins at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 26, and ends at midnight Thursday night. Regular lobster season begins at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 6, and continues through March 31.
Law enforcement agencies work together to strictly enforce lobster harvest and boating safety regulations. Divers should be in good physical health and, before embarking on their lobster excursion, ensure they are current with their dive certification and verify that their dive equipment and boating gear are all in good working order.
Keys lobster-catching regulations for both sport season and regular lobster season can be found at KeysLobsterSeason.com. The dedicated website features videos highlighting dive and boating safety tips, up-to-date rules and regulations for lobster harvesting within the Keys such as daily limits, and emphasizes avoiding prohibited, no-take zones protected within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary boundaries.
Rules include a limit of six lobsters — each with a carapace measuring larger than 3 inches — per person, per day. Possession and use of a measuring device is required at all times, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials. A lobster's carapace must be measured in the water and the lobster must be kept intact until after returning to shore.
“Size and bag limits really matter in the Florida Keys,” said FWC Captain David Dipre. “Regulations are extremely important because this is a national marine sanctuary.”
FWC officials, in partnership with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and other agencies, are to stage an information booth at Divers Direct, mile marker 100 oceanside, with hours of operation planned for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 22, through Tuesday, July 25. Staff are to demonstrate how to properly measure harvested lobsters and provide the latest lobster-catching rules and regulations.
Keys lobster season information: KeysLobsterSeason.com
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
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