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Contact: Susan Gonshor, 305-230-1144, x3019
During the July 30 and 31 Spiny Lobster Sport Season, Biscayne National Park rangers will be actively patrolling both Biscayne Bay and the outer reefs to ensure both public safety and legal lobster harvest. At the same time, park biologists and volunteers will be stationed at popular boat launching sites to complete surveys on the quantity, size, sex and harvest locations for lobsters. The surveys provide scientists with important information which helps them monitor and better understand the Park’s lobster populations.
Harvesting lobsters in the Biscayne Bay-Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary (whose boundaries overlap the Park’s boundaries) is prohibited year-round. The Sanctuary was established by the State of Florida to provide a place where lobsters can live and breed safely year-round to provide a replenishment zone to surrounding areas. A downloadable lobster brochure, including a map of the Biscayne Bay-Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary and information on how to properly measure a lobster, is available at the park's Fishing & Lobstering page. It should be noted that the channels between islands are considered part of the lobster sanctuary; harvesting of lobsters does not become legal until fully east of the chain of islands.
Recreational harvesters with a valid Florida recreational saltwater fishing license and crawfish permit can take up to 6 legal-sized Caribbean spiny lobsters (3" carapace length) per person, per day during the Sport Season. The same limitations apply during the regular Spiny Lobster season that opens August 6 and runs through March 31, 2009. The taking of egg-bearing female lobsters and the use of spear guns or other hook-type instruments is prohibited. All lobsters must remain in whole condition until returned to the mainland.
Superintendent Mark Lewis reminds all participants that if they are at all in doubt as to the location of the sanctuary boundaries, they should err on the side of caution and move further out. He also stresses that safety is a priority during lobster season. The use of a 20" x 24" dive flag is required to be displayed on vessels used by divers and snorkelers. Boats must stay at least 300 feet from any boat displaying a dive flag unless at idle speed. Use and display dive flags properly. Look for dive flags while operating a vessel and exercise caution near them. Diving in or within 100 feet of a marked channel is prohibited in Biscayne National Park. To help ensure safety and protection of the resource and visitors, a unified team of National Park Service Rangers, working in conjunction with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Coast Guard, Miami-Dade County Police and Fire Rescue Departments, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Coral Gables Police Department, will be out on the water in both marked and unmarked vessels during the entire two-day event, including nighttime hours. For further information, please call the park at 305-230-7275.