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Contact: Vanessa McDonough, 305-230-1144 ext 3013
Contact: Susan Gonshor, 305-230-1144 ext 3019
During the 2007 two-day Spiny Lobster Sport Season, commonly known as lobster “mini-season” and open to recreational harvesters only, Biscayne National Park staff and volunteers interviewed 1,040 boaters at Homestead Bayfront and Black Point County Parks regarding their catch. Their surveys indicate a total of 3,360 lobsters were taken from park waters during the July 25-26, 2007 mini-season. This average catch of 3.2 lobsters per person per day represents a slight decline from the 2006 average catch of 3.8 lobsters per person per day and a 38 % decline over prior years’ (1996-2005) catch. “There appears to be a direct correlation between the nearly 40% increase in boaters harvesting lobsters and the 38% decline in the average take”, says Vanessa McDonough, Biscayne National Park Fisheries Biologist. She also noted “That while most people returned with their daily limit of six lobsters each on Wednesday, many park visitors returned empty-handed or with much smaller catches on Thursday, despite spending long hours searching for lobsters.”
Park staff also reports and that an overwhelming number of park visitors were aware of and compliant to the sport season regulations, including adhering to size regulations (3 inch minimum carapace length) and the prohibition on lobstering in the Biscayne Bay-Card Sound lobster sanctuary. During the interviews, park staff and volunteers also measured harvested lobsters, not only to insure that harvested individuals were of legal size, but also to collect data on trends in size of catch. In the next few weeks, park biologists will analyze how this year’s trends compare to those of previous years. Although the data have not been analyzed yet, McDonough did observe that “Most harvested lobsters fell between 3 and 3 ½ inches carapace length; only a small proportion of the lobsters measured were greater than 4 inches”. The coordinated efforts of park staff resulted in fewer than 30 citations being written, which represent less than 1% of the lobsters examined by park staff. More details about the size trends of Sport Season spiny lobster catches can be obtained by calling Biscayne National Park at 305-230-1144 ext 3013.