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Florida Lobster Mini-Season Divers Get An Extra Day

It's the first time since the mini-season was created in 1987 that a day has been added.

Florida Lobster Mini-Season Divers Get An Extra Day
These divers scored part of their limit of spiny lobsters during a recent lobster diving season. Residents can dive July 14 for an added day of action during the spiny lobster sport season. (Photo courtesy of Fish and Wildlife Research Institute)

Florida residents received a surprise gift this year, courtesy of Gov. Ron DeSantis. For the first time since the spiny lobster sport season (aka mini-season) was created in 1987, Floridians receive one extra day of lobster-diving fun.

On Sunday July 14, state residents will have the opportunity to take advantage of one additional day to dive for spiny lobsters. The normally scheduled mini-season July 24 and 25 remains unchanged and is open to all divers. As always, regular season opens Aug. 6 and remains open until March 31, 2025.

spiny lobster
A spiny lobster sits on a rocky reef in South Florida waters. Florida residents have a unique opportunity to enjoy an extra day of lobster mini-season July 14. (Photo courtesy of Fish and Wildlife Research Institute)

There are a few details about the extra day that differ from the sport season (full Executive Order 24-13 can be read here):

  • Only Florida residents will be permitted to dive for lobsters July 14
  • No possession of lobsters in federal waters: Atlantic harvest restricted to three miles from shore; Gulf harvest restricted to nine miles
  • Same bag limits apply: 6 per person in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park; 12 everywhere else
  • Possession limit on the water: Equal to the daily bag limit
  • Possession limit off the water: Equal to the daily bag limit on July 14 and July 24, 2024, and double the daily bag limit on July 25, 2024. 
  • Possession limits are enforced on and off the water
  • Minimum Size Limit: Carapace length must be larger than 3 inches, measured in the water. Possession and use of a measuring device required at all times. Find out how to measure a spiny lobster. 
  • Night Diving: Prohibited in Monroe County (ONLY during sport season). Diving is defined as swimming at or below the surface of the water.
  • Prohibited Areas: Harvest of lobster is prohibited in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park during the sport season. At all times, harvest of lobster is prohibited in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, in the Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary, and in the five Coral Reef Protection Areas in Biscayne National Park.
  • Fishing Charters: For the July 14, 2024, special harvest day, charter captains who are Florida residents can be hired. All charter customers on the special harvest day must also be Florida residents and carry proof of residency. Charter customers do not have to be Florida residents for the regular sport season dates (July 24-25, 2024)

Source: FWC

It’s important to note that when the regular lobster harvest season begins Aug. 6, the daily bag limit changes to six per person throughout all of Florida. Divers may also harvest lobsters in federal waters during the July 24-25 sport season and regular season. The regular season coincides with when commercial lobster fishermen may begin pulling their traps in areas of Florida where they fish. These additional regulations apply:

  • Unless exempt, a recreational saltwater fishing license and a ($5) lobster permit  are required to harvest spiny lobster 
  • Lobster must be landed in whole condition. Separating the tail from the body is prohibited in state waters.
  • The harvest or possession of eggbearing spiny lobster, or any other eggbearing species of lobster belonging to the families Palinuridae (spiny lobsters), Scyllaridae (slipper lobsters) or Synaxidae (furry lobsters) is prohibited
  • No person shall harvest or attempt to harvest spiny lobster using any device which will or could puncture, penetrate or crush the exoskeleton (shell) or the flesh of the lobster; no spearing
  • Recreational trapping prohibited
  • Regardless of what species you are fishing for, bag limits are only for properly licensed individuals and those people exempt from license requirements who are actively harvesting. People harvesting may not exceed their individual bag limit and take someone else's bag limit. That is, people (including children) who are not actively harvesting or are not properly licensed (if a license is required) may NOT be counted for purposes of bag limits.

Source: FWC

Enjoy the extra day, but as always when lobster diving, make safety your first and highest priority. Remember, whether snorkeling, free diving or scuba diving remain within 300 feet of the boat and display an approved dive flag at the boat’s highest point. Boat operators need to watch divers because current often carries divers away from the anchored vessel. And not every diver has the same swimming skills or is in proper physical condition so watch for signs of exhaustion to prevent drowning or heart problems.

Good luck getting a few extra tails this July.




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