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Divers head out early for start of lobster mini season

Lobster mini season began at the stroke of midnight and divers headed out early Wednesday morning for Day 1 of the 48-hour mini season.
Lobster mini season began at the stroke of midnight and divers headed out early Wednesday morning for Day 1 of the 48-hour mini season.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Lobster mini season began at the stroke of midnight and divers headed out early Wednesday morning for Day 1 of the 48-hour mini season.

“First come, first serve, and I know a lot of people are going to be out there taking them all,” lobster diver Mason Tilbrook said.

There wasn’t a minute wasted this lobster mini season as some divers were in and out with their lobster limit by 4 a.m.

“The opportunity here is for residents and visitors to get their share of lobster ahead of the commercial and regular season,” said Ronald Washington, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Two major incidents were reported on the first day of lobster mini season in Monroe County as one man died after losing consciousness at Sawyer Key and another man was airlifted to a hospital after being struck by a boat propeller off the Lower Keys.
Two major incidents were reported on the first day of lobster mini season in Monroe County as one man died after losing consciousness at Sawyer Key and another man was airlifted to a hospital after being struck by a boat propeller off the Lower Keys.

The FWC reminds divers that the mini season is a highly regulated activity with lots of rules.

“It is illegal to harvest lobster from the national park sanctuary,” Washington said.

It’s important to check your maps for no lobstering zones, and you can’t harvest lobster at night in Monroe County.

Tickle sticks are permitted to be used, as well as bully nets at night. The FWC asks that divers keep lights away from people’s homes.

Divers are permitted to catch 12 lobsters per person daily, except in Monroe County and at Biscayne National Park, where the limit is six per person.

The size of the lobster is also important.

“The gage is going to show that the lobster has to be at least 3 ½ inches for the head or carapace, and the tail must be at least 5 1/2 inches,” Washington said.

Lobsters must remain whole and if they have eggs, divers must put those lobsters back in the water.

The FWC also emphasizes diver safety and asks that divers use their dive flags so others know where they are.

Boats must maintain a distance of at least 300 feet from a displayed dive flag.

“We’ll respond to numerous calls for service. You name it, we’ll be out here,” Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephen Gollan said. “Unfortunately during this event, we see more injuries than any other time of the year in a 48-hour period.”

Monroe County experienced two emergencies Wednesday morning as one man lost consciousness before being pronounced dead at a hospital and another man was injured after being struck in the leg by a boat propeller.


About the Author:

Saira Anwer joined the Local 10 News team in July 2018. Saira is two-time Emmy-nominated reporter and comes to South Florida from Madison, Wisconsin, where she was working as a reporter and anchor.