Calling All Lobster Lovers: Mini-Season Nearly Here!

Grab your tickle stick, jump on a boat and get ready for a 48-hour rush of fun… spiny lobster mini-season is nearly here!

Starting at 12:01 a.m. on July 24, divers across the Sunshine State can take a dip to catch those delicious crustaceans.

“Spiny lobster season is an exciting time of year to be on the water,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman Robert Spottswood. “But it’s also a time to remember safety on the water and to remember the importance of taking care around Florida’s coral reefs.”

FWC has teamed up with the Coast Guard to conduct daily patrols to ensure divers with their recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit are abiding by the rules and regulations.

Daily Bag Limit: 

  • 12 per person (six in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park)

On Water Possession Limit: 

  • Equal to daily bag limit

Off Water Possession Limit: 

  • Equal to daily bag limit on day one  

  • Double the daily bag limit on day two

Minimum Size Limit: 

  • Carapace must be larger than three inches (measured in water)

Night Diving: 

  • Prohibited in Monroe County

Off-Limit Locations: 

  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

  • Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park

  • No-take areas in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary

Other Prohibitions: 

  • Harvesting of egg-bearing spiny lobsters

  • Recreational trapping 

  • Devices that can puncture, penetrate or crush shell

More than 236,000 people got licensed to go lobstering in 2018. FWC expects even more people to hit the open waters this mini-season.

Chief Warrant Officer Chad Turner, commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Key West, is urging divers and boaters to take safety precautions.

“Properly displaying your dive flag anytime swimmers are in the water will alert surrounding boaters,” said Chief Warrant Officer Chad Turner, commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Key West. “A dive flag is for the safety of the swimmer and the boater. The boaters must maintain bare speed within 100 yards of the flag, and swimmers should be reminded that they must be aware of their distance to their flag.”

Stephanie Saunders has been lobstering nearly her entire life. She’ll be one of those hundreds of thousands taking to the seas this mini-season. 

“I go with my dad. We’ve been doing it for the longest, since I was a little girl, probably 3 years old,” Saunders said. “We go off of Key Largo. We go to our special holes that we’ve been going to forever.”

After all these years lobstering, Saunders said she still looks forward to one of her favorite pastimes.

“I love it because I can be in the ocean, and because of the thrill of catching them,” she said. “But most of all I love it because they are delicious. I love to sauté them in butter and garlic, especially when they’re fresh from the ocean. Too bad my incredibly handsome boyfriend, Stefano, hates them.” 

Following this short session, the regular eight-month lobster season kicks off on August 6 and lasts through March 31.