Lobstering Rules to Remember
By Holly Houser, Ocean Reef Press Editorial Assistant
With Lobstermania and Mini Season quickly approaching (July 29 & 30), and the Regular Spiny Lobster Season beginning on Thursday, August 6, now is the time to familiarize yourself with the rules.
Before you set out on your lobstering adventure, make sure to check you have the proper gear on board. In addition to the required boating safety equipment, you are required to have and use a measuring device at all times. Also, anyone participating in the season must have both a recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit. Safety is first priority, so don’t forget that a diver down flag must be prominently displayed when divers or snorkelers are in the water.
While there’s gear that’s required, there is also gear that’s prohibited. When harvesting lobster, you may not use a spear or any other device that could puncture or crush the lobster’s shell or flesh.
Knowing how to properly measure lobsters is of great importance when participating in this sport. Once a lobster is caught, it must be measured in the water and have a carapace larger than three inches to be legal sized. All undersized lobsters have to be released unharmed.
An individual is allowed only six lobsters per day, per person (called the bag limit). The number of lobsters allowed on a boat at one time directly correlates to the number of actively harvesting people on the boat. People who are not actively harvesting or aren’t properly licensed, including children, may not be counted towards the bag limit.
Please remember that egg-bearing lobsters must be released unharmed, regardless of their size, and tails can only be separated from lobsters while on land. The separated tails must be greater than five and a half inches in length.
Permitted Lobstering Areas
Lobstering is not allowed in all areas. Lobstering in the canals of Ocean Reef and/or 300 feet from the Ocean Reef shoreline is prohibited, as well as lobstering in any public or private marina. Carysfort Reef is closed year-round to the harvest of Spiny Lobster, and there are eight Lobster Exclusion Zones located in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park waters (Turtle Rocks, Basin Hill Shoals, Higdon’s Reef, Cannon Patch, Mosquito Bank North & South, Three Sisters North & South).
Keeping these rules in mind will lead to a fun, safe and successful lobster season. The Regular Spiny Lobster Season runs from August 6 to March 31. For questions on regulations, call the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission at 305-289-2320.
Florida Lobster Cooking or Grilling Tips
- While still in the shell, twist and pull the tail from the head, rinse and split in half lengthwise. Remove the meat from its shells and brush them with a seasoned melted butter of lemon, garlic, chopped parsley and a dash of Lawry’s Seasoning). Return the meat to its shell and broil in the oven.
- Dice lobster tail and cook it in Escargot Butter.
- Dice lobster tail, pan fry in light butter and mix into a mac n’ cheese.
- Split lobster lengthwise and clean, brush the tail-meat with clarified butter and season. Cook on an open grill (gas or charcoal) flesh down, for three minutes. Flip over to cook for another four to five minutes, brush with the butter and serve immediately.