Longstreet Highroad Guide to the Florida Keys & Everglades
By Rick Ferren
The Florida lobster, or spiny lobster, unlike its northeastern relative has no claws, but it is just as popular and tasty. You'll find lobster on almost every menu, and maybe on your grill if you're lucky enough to catch one or buy one from a local seafood outlet.
The Keys have a very large commercial lobster industry that sets 500,000 traps in the water every year. Penalties for molesting traps are very stiff.
Sport diving for lobster is also very popular, but pursuing it requires a certain amount of skill and knowledge to locate the lobster and then coax the wily creature from the cracks and crevices of the coral reef. Equipment includes gloves, "tickle sticks," and small nets to entrap the animals.
Regular lobster season for commercial and recreational harvest begins in early August and ends in late March. There is a two-day Sport Lobster Season every July for recreational divers only. The chance to get first shot at the lobsters before the traps are put out draws a huge crowd, filling every hotel, motel, and campground in the Keys.
Lobster harvest regulations are available at most dive shops and where fishing licenses are sold.