FLORIDA KEYS — For Florida Keys leisure travelers and residents, both the two-day lobster sport season in July and the traditional lobster harvesting season that begins in early August are like annual holidays.
Florida lobster sport season, locally dubbed “mini season" for its short two-day duration, begins each year on the last Wednesday of July and ends at midnight Thursday. The 2022 regular season begins at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 6 and ends at midnight March 31, 2023.
Before the annual season arrives, however, people can take significant steps to help ensure an enjoyable, safe and impact-free experience.
When participating in the lobster season in waters surrounding the Florida Keys, it’s important to know that daily limits in the Florida Keys and Biscayne National Park differ from those in other parts of Florida.
A diver’s physical health and the condition of his or her equipment is as important as limits and other regulations. Keys marine officials report that, in their enthusiasm for catching spiny lobster, divers sometimes neglect their own physical fitness challenges stemming from a lack of regular cardiac exercise or forget basic diving skills — especially if they haven’t been diving or exerting themselves recently.
It is critical to update or replace aged or worn-out dive gear. Closely check each piece of equipment — from a potentially leaky mask to fin straps, regulators, hoses, air and depth gauges and inflators on buoyancy compensators — to ensure that everything functions properly.
Accidents can occur in shallow water, yet most are preventable if divers simply take time to review or “refresh” diving skills and test their equipment — in addition to their personal boat safety gear — before heading out on the water.
The website KeysLobsterSeason.com includes best practices for safety and success, including interactive videos with need-to-know dive and boating safety tips, and up-to-date rules and regulations for lobster hunting in the Keys.
It also stresses Keys daily limits, harvesting techniques and how to avoid prohibited, no-take zones that are protected within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary boundaries.
Learn best practices for safety and success, including interactive videos with need-to-know dive and boating safety tips, and up-to-date rules and regulations for lobster hunting in the Keys.
One of the most important tips is to measure lobster in the water correctly. The carapace must measure at least three inches in length.
Informational brochures are to be distributed throughout Florida Keys retail stores and some popular supermarkets.