Florida's lobster mini season is probably one of the most anticipated events in the state during the calendar year. This is a time for the recreational and pleasure divers to get a crack at the tasty bugs before the commercial fishermen drop their traps. As with every year, there are more boaters and divers in the water than any other time of the year. Additionally, it means that the likelihood of accidents, injuries and death increases exponentially. Every year there is an inexperienced diver that gets the bends or drowns. Drunken boaters cause accidents. People dive at night without the requisite experience. All in all, mini lobster season brings out the inexperienced, the crazies and the partiers all looking for Florida's delicious Caribbean lobster.
There are several ways to make the mini season safer for the recreational diver and boater.
- Make sure that your vessel has all the necessary safety equipment.
- Make sure that all divers are experienced and carry with them certification cards.
- All diving equipment should be checked beforehand. Many divers leave their equipment in the garage after the summer and don't break it out until mini season. The equipment becomes rusty, infested with insects; the rubber gaskets dry up and malfunctions can cause tragedy.
- Every diver must have a fishing license with a lobster stamp.
- Everyone must know the legal limits per diver per day. In Monroe County, it is six lobsters per diver per day. The rest of the state of Florida is 12 lobsters per diver per day. Be aware of the size limitations of the lobster and that females bearing eggs are illegal. Many people believe that you can take your limits, go home and re-enter the water to obtain more lobster -- Wrong. While many get away with it, the lobster divers in the Florida Keys may be subjected to Florida's Fish and Wildlife Commission's searches. They now have lobster sniffing dogs that will enter the vessel and the vehicle looking for lobster tails. Simple math will tell the officer whether or not the state limits been exceeded. If they are, penalties are stiff. It may include heavy fines, forfeiture of the vessel and even the vehicle towing the vessel.
Mini season can be a very rewarding and fun experience if you follow safety rules and obey the law. Be safe and have fun.