It's short -- just two days -- but the Spiny Lobster Sport Season is coming to Biscayne National Park in Florida later this month. Be sure to obey the catch rules, as park law-enforcement rangers will be patroling around the clock, both to ensure public safety and and to check for legal lobster harvests.
Park employees will be stationed during the season July 30 and 31 at area marinas to provide information, assist visitors with questions about the park, and conduct brief but important surveys that guide better management of lobsters and lobstering in the park for this and future generations.
The park's Fishery Management Plan does not impact the two-day lobster season in 2014. The plan aims to improve fishery resource conditions, increase the abundance and size of targeted fish, and provide better fishing experiences for future generations. To achieve these goals over the next five to ten years, the park and cooperating agencies will work together to implement a wide range of plan recommendations. There is a recommendation in the plan to eliminate the two-day lobster season in the park in future years. Whether this happens depends on how the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Park Service pursue park-specific regulations. There will be further opportunities for public input on any proposed regulatory changes. The opportunities will be widely announced, including on the park website.
'I encourage visitors to enjoy the park and the vast and extraordinary array of resources that it provides,' said Superintendent Brian Carlstrom. 'Please do so safely, legally and responsibly, with a nod to future generations.'
Licensed harvesters in the park may take up to six lobsters, with a carapace greater than three inches, per person and per day. The taking of egg-bearing females and the use of spears, grabs, hooks or similar devices, is prohibited. Lobsters must remain whole until transported to the mainland. Park regulations remain the same when the regular lobster season begins August 6. Regulations may differ in waters surrounding the park.
Park lobster harvesters should exercise caution while diving and boating. Dive flag use is required. Boaters, unless at idle speed, should stay over 300 feet from the flags. Divers who have not been diving in a while should take extra precautions and practice diving before harvesting lobsters, as accidents often happen when equipment or endurance fails after long inattention. Diving within 100 feet of a marked channel is prohibited. Harvesters should beware of venomous lionfish, which hide in the same habitat as lobsters.
Harvesting lobsters is prohibited in the Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary. The boundaries of this sanctuary overlap with the park. It includes Biscayne Bay and Card Sound from Matheson Hammock and Key Biscayne south to Pumpkin Creek and the Card Sound bridge. The boundaries extend to the high water line, including tidal creeks and channels. The sanctuary provides lobsters with a place to live and breed safely, and functions as a replenishment zone to surrounding areas.
A downloadable lobster brochure, including a map of the Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary, is available at this site.