Let’s talk lobster

It’s lobster mini season in the Keys and the rules and regulations are really important.

Captain David Dipre, member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about lobster mini season.

Captain Dipre said, “Every state in the country where anybody hunts or fishes, they’ve all got rules and regulations about bag limits and size limits. So if you’re coming to Florida, you need to know what those regulations are. Some people think that because you’re coming down and you’re fishing in the ocean that it’s wide open and it’s free to everybody to just do what they want, but the resources we have are finite. If you overfish the grouper, overfish the snapper, overfish the lobster, they won’t remain. They have to have time to reproduce.”

FWC is asking everyone to obey the bag and size limits. If you don’t, there will be consequences.

Captain Dipre said, “It’s so easy to obey those bag and size limits. Once you catch a lobster and you realize wait a minute, it’s slightly short, just put it back. I realize to some people that means losing out on an opportunity to have a lobster, but it is not going to go to waste. They live quite well. They’re pretty hardy animals. So when you do measure it and it’s out of the water for just a little while, you can put it back in the water and it will gladly swim away and it will breed and it will produce offspring and there will be more lobster for everyone later.”

Those lobster lay millions of eggs, so if you keep it, you reduce the opportunity for those millions of eggs to be produced.

Captain Dipre said, “So just don’t do it. It’s just that simple. We work great with our state attorney’s office. We work great down here with the sheriff’s office and all the other law enforcement agencies and everybody – everybody – is working hard to make sure that these rules and regulations are obeyed because simply put, we care about what happens down here. The residents care about their home here in the Florida Keys. We just don’t want to see people coming down here and poaching, especially when it’s so easy not to poach and to follow the rules and regulations.”

The bag limit is six per day.

Captain Dipre said, “First day you can have six, second day you may be in possession of 12 on land. I will tell you that if you’re going to be shipping someone else’s lobsters, it’s always a good idea to have their licenses with you so that you can show an officer wait a second, I’ve got mom’s and dad’s and grandma’s and everybody else’s licenses with me to show you why I’ve got all these lobsters. We’re just trying to make sure that everybody’s being accountable.”

You can show up to Florida without a license, but you better not be out on the water taking lobster without a license.

Captain Dipre said, “It’s so easy to find out all about that stuff. There’s a one-stop shop.”

If you go to www.myfwc.com you can read all about licenses and regulations.

Captain Dipre said, “Let me promise you one thing: a little bit of homework goes a long way in keeping you out of trouble.”

People can actually go to jail for taking undersized lobsters – it happens.

Captain Dipre said, “There’s no reason to take undersized lobster. The state attorney takes a very strict role in that. People say we need stronger laws. I don’t think we need stronger laws. I think our laws are very, very good right now. I think what we do need is continued prosecution and continued enforcement and we have both of those right now and I think our agencies are doing very well considering what we’ve got to work with – 2,900 square miles, soon to be even larger than that. We’ve got people there and we’re watching very closely to make sure it’s all protected.”

Officers have discretion when they stop someone. It can be about intent and incorrect measurements. If you’re cooperative and apologetic if you’re lobsters are too small and you conform to the rules, you should be fine. If you’re hiding lobsters and not willing to show them, that could be a different story.

Captain Dipre said, “I will tell you if you do go to jail it’s because we felt that there was an intent or a huge amount of negligence on your part.”

One final word of caution, make sure your dive flags are up.

Captain Dipre said, “If you want to put two dive flags up, that’s not a problem, either. Make sure that your divers are safe in the water. Make sure your divers are staying within 300 feet of the boat and the dive flag. It’s so important that you watch out after your divers and cover your divers because you cannot count and should not count on anybody else watching after them. That is your job if you’re operating that boat, you’ve got your dive flags up and it’s your job to make sure everybody’s taken care of and you’ve got to be responsible in the water so that everybody’s being safe.”

For more information about lobster season, click here: https://fla-keys.com/news/article/10950/catch-the-facts-know-the-rules-for-keys-lobster-season/