Jamie-Lyn Weiler caught this lobster free diving in the Content Keys during last year's season.

Lobster Information Booth Provides Helpful Tips for Bug Hunters

KEY LARGO, Florida Keys The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are hosting their annual Lobster Information Booth at mile marker 106 bayside on the Overseas Highway in Key Largo.

Starting Saturday, July 21, visitors arriving in the Keys can stop at the booth for lobster mini-season information. It is to be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Tuesday, July 24.

Sanctuary and FWC staff at the booth can explain the proper techniques for catching and measuring lobsters, and provide information about sanctuary no-take areas and other resource-protection regulations.

Lobster hunters should steer clear of the sanctuary’s no-take areas, most marked by 30-inch round yellow buoys, as well as closed areas in other jurisdictions such as national and state parks. Federal and state rules prohibit coral damage. Sanctuary and state regulations require divers and snorkelers to fly a clearly visible diver-down flag.

All the waters of and around the city of Layton, including canals, are designated as a crawfish sanctuary where taking or capturing spiny lobster for any reason is strictly prohibited, according to officials.

An FWC enforcement officer is to be on hand at the booth to answer questions, as are representatives of preservation organizations such as the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, Everglades National Park and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Sanctuary brochures outlining lobster season rules for Monroe County are to be available at the booth and at dive shops, marinas, bait and tackle shops and many other businesses throughout the Keys. Sanctuary officials remind visitors and residents to follow regulations aimed at protecting lobster populations and the coral reef, and ensuring the safety of boaters and divers.

Information links and a mini-season brochure for regulations in the Florida Keys are available online at www.fla-keys.com/diving/lobster.htm.

Each year, the lobster mini-season falls on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July. The 2012 mini-season opens at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 25, and closes at midnight Thursday. Regular lobster season always begins Aug. 6 and closes March 31. For more information, visit www.myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/regulations/lobster/.

Florida Keys diving information: www.fla-keys.com/diving
Florida Keys visitor information: www.fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS (1-800-352-5397)
Social: facebook.com/floridakeysandkeywest · twitter.com/thefloridakeys · youtube.com/FloridaKeysTV

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