Florida Sea Grant Extension in Collier County

Welcome to the Collier County Sea Grant Extension Blog

This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my extension outreach efforts and useful information to make you a more informed coastal citizen. If you have any questions about what you see, feel free to contact me at fluech@ufl.edu.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spiny Lobster Sport Season Begins This Week (July 27-28, 2011)

Image credit: Nancy Richie
Its almost that time of the year again... Florida's 2-day spiny lobster sport season! This Florida-favorite pastime occurs the last  consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July each year  (July 27-28, 2011). Did you know that 1.5 to 2 million pounds of spiny lobster are typically harvested between this two-day  sport season and labor day? Researchers estimate that 20-25% of the entire season's total harvest occurs during this period.

Do you know your regulations?  By following the rules, you help to ensure Florida's spiny lobster fishery remains sustainable for future generations!

Spiny Lobster Sport Season Regulations
Season dates: July 27-28, 2011 (Last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July each year).
Bag limits: 6 per person per day for Monroe County and Biscayne National Park, and 12 per person per day for the rest of Florida.
Possession limit - on the water: equal to the daily bag limit
Possession limit - off the water: equal to the daily bag limit on the first day, and double the daily bag limit on the second day.
Possession limits are enforced on and off the water.
Minimum size limit: must be larger than 3" carapace, measured in the water. A reminder that possession and use of a measuring device is required at all times, and night diving is prohibited in Monroe County (only during the sport season).
License requirements: A recreational saltwater license and a crawfish permit are needed for harvest.
A female lobster with eggs
Don't Forget
  • The harvest or possession of eggbearing spiny lobster , or any other 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, and the use of such devices as part of, or in conjunction with, any trap is also prohibited.

  •  (from http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/regulations/lobster/)

    Tools for Lobstering
    • Image credit: Nancy Richie
      Saltwater fishing license and Lobster permit
    • Dive Flag
    • Short-Handled Lobster Net and Tail Snare
    • Tickle Stick
    • Gloves
    • Mesh Game Bag
    • Lobster Gauge
    Lobstering Tips
    • Look for antennae waving out from holes in the reef, or bring a light to peer in crevices. Look for eels, which tend to like the same reef crevices as lobster.
    • Rather than grabbing at them by hand, successful hunters use tickle sticks and other tools to coax the animals into backing into their nets or snares. 
    • Use the right tool for the job. If a lobster is holed-up inside the reef or rubble, your net won't do much good and probably a lot of harm. Nets are good out in the sand but they can really damage a reef. Use a tail snare and tickle stick. Sneak the noose behind the lobster while you distract it with the tickle stick. When the loop is in place, conduct your prey backward and through the loop. Tighten the snare and pull your catch out of the hole.
    • Guide the lobster into the bag tail-first.
    • Get a good grip. Grab a thrashing lobster by the tail and it will easily break your grasp... a panicked lobster will gladly sacrifice an antennae or leg in a bid for freedom.
    •  Use gloves and handle lobster by the carapace only. There is a reason why they are called "spiny" lobsters
    Storing, Handling, and Cooking Your Catch

    Keep your catch alive:
    Store lobsters in a cooler with a few inches of salt water
    Or store In a refrigerator (41°F) in a breathable container
    DO NOT store directly on ice
    Twist the tail off
    Remove the alimentary canal  (Break of one of the lobster's antenna and insert it up in it's anus. Twist it a bit and then pull it out slowly. The alimentary canal will come out... I know is sounds gross,  but trust me it works.)
    Rinse with fresh water.
    When the tail is clean:
    store in coldest part of refrigerator (32°F) for up to two days
    freeze for later (up to 6 months)
    -Spiny lobster tails can be boiled, steamed, grilled, deep-fried, or broiled, or the meat can be removed from the shell and used with any recipe. For several delicious recipes visit:
    Happy Bug Hunting!!

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