MIAMI (AP) — The 2013 recreational and commercial spiny lobster seasons will open soon.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports that the two-day recreational season is July 24-25. The regular commercial and recreational lobster season starts Aug. 6 and runs through March 31.
The two-day sport season occurs on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July each year. 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. Divers must possess a measuring device and lobsters must be in the water while they are measured.
Harvest of egg-bearing females is prohibited. Spiny lobster must remain in whole condition until it is brought to shore. Harvesters cannot use any device that might puncture, penetrate or crush the shell of the lobster.
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. They can possess no more than the daily bag limit of lobsters when they are on the water. When they are off the water, they 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 regular season, the daily recreational bag and on-the-water possession limit is six spiny lobsters per person.
While diving, spiny lobster harvesters may encounter nonnative, invasive lionfish. FWC encourages people to remove lionfish to limit negative impacts to native fish and wildlife. There is no bag limit for the nonnative, invasive lionfish.
Harvesters must have a recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit to recreationally harvest spiny lobsters unless they are exempt from recreational license requirements.
Online: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/lobster/