Spiny Lobster Rules and Regulations

 

Seasons- applies to State and Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean

There are two seasons for harvesting spiny lobster in the State of Florida:

  • Spiny Lobster Sport Season- the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July.
    • Lobster harvesting is not permitted in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park during the Sport Season.
  • Regular Spiny Lobster Season- runs from August 6 to March 31.
  • Lobster harvesting is never permitted in: Dry Tortugas National Park, no take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Everglades National Park, City of Layton, Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Spiny Lobster Sanctuary, artificial habitats in state waters and certain exclusion zones of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

 

Harvesting-applies to State and Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean

When diving for and recreationally harvesting spiny lobster:

  • Make sure you display a dive flag.
  • Spearing is not permitted- a person may not attempt to harvest or harvest a spiny lobster in a way which could crush, penetrate, or puncture the exoskeleton or flesh of the lobster.
  • Recreational trapping is prohibited.
  • Night diving is prohibited in Monroe County during the Sport Season. Night is considered 1 hour after sunset and 1 hour before sunrise.
  • Egg-bearing or berried lobsters (any species) must be released. The eggs are located on the underside of the lobster’s tail and can be an orange, brown, yellow, or red in color.
  • A person cannot try to harvest or harvest spiny lobsters by diving unless he or she possesses a lobster measuring gauge in the water.
  • A person harvesting by diving must measure the lobster in the water.


Minimum size to harvest lobster

  • The carapace must be greater than 3 inches and the measurement is required take place in the water. The measurement begins at the forward edge between the rostral horns, excluding soft tissue, and goes along the middle to the rear edge of the carapace.

 

Landing

  • While at sea, the recreationally harvested lobster must be in a whole condition. The tail must not be wrung (separated) from the lobster.
  • Once on dry land, the lobster tail can be separated from the body. The separated tail must be greater than 5.5 inches.

 

Possession and Bag Limits- applies to Federal and State waters in the Gulf and Atlantic

  • During the Spiny Lobster Sport Season:
    • The daily bag limit is 6 per recreational harvester in Monroe County.
    • The possession limit on the water is 6 per recreational harvester.
    • The possession limit off the water is a two-day limit of 12 per recreational harvester in Monroe County. The two-day limit of 12 can only be possessed when transporting the catch by car on or after the second day.
  • During the Regular Lobster Season:
    • The daily bag limit is 6 per recreational harvester per day.
    • The possession limit on the water is 6 per recreational harvester per day.
    • The possession limit off the water is 6 per recreational harvester per day.

 

Bringing Fish from The Bahamas to Florida

  • Bringing Spiny Lobster back to Florida:
    • Make sure you have a stamped passport, valid Bahamian cruising permit, and a valid Bahamian sport fishing permit.
    • Spiny lobster cannot be brought into U.S. waters from The Bahamas during the Sport Season.
    • Spiny lobster can only be brought into U.S. waters from August 6 to March 31.
    • Lobsters that are lawfully speared in The Bahamas may be brought back to Florida.
    • When returning to Florida from The Bahamas, the spiny lobster must be brought back whole and intact. (No wrung tails).

 

State rules governing spiny lobster:

https://nmsfloridakeys.blob.core.windows.net/floridakeys-prod/media/archive/regs/mc_lobster.pdf

Federal rules governing spiny lobster in the Atlantic:

https://safmc.net/regulations/regulations-by-species/spiny-lobster/

Federal rules governing spiny lobster in the Gulf of Mexico:

https://gulfcouncil.org/fishing-regulations/spiny-lobster-panulirus-argus/

Contact an aggressive criminal defense attorney in Key West, Florida

The State of Florida treats lobster violations extremely seriously and seeks jail time for many lobster violations. The Jamindar Law Firm is focused on aggressively defending locals and tourists against lobster violations in Monroe County, Florida. To schedule a free initial consultation, call me at 305-204-6869 or contact me online. My office is conveniently located at 422 Fleming Street on the edge of the Key West Historical District.