Lobster Catching

lobster casitas
5:43 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Lobster Casitas Get Thumbs Down From State

Spiny lobster are Florida's most valuable fishery, with $50 million in landings annually. Commercial divers would like to use casitas to help catch them, but trap fishermen and state regulators oppose the move.
Credit Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

For years, divers looking for lobster in the Florida Keys knew that the best place to find them was under some sort of shelter, whether a rock or something more artificial like a car hood.

John Coffin, who owns a marine salvaging business in the Lower Keys, said he got into using "casitas," or little houses, to find lobster in the late 1970s.

"It was a huge secret. I would never dive with another person," Coffin said. Still, even before GPS, other divers started following him around.

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News
2:47 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Feds: Undersea 'Little Houses' In Florida Keys A Threat To Marine Life

One of hundreds of 'casitas,' illegal lobster traps on the ocean floor off the Florida Keys.
Credit NOAA/TetraTech

For the last two months, marine restoration teams have been hauling up coffee table-like structures from Florida Keys waters. They're called casitas -- Spanish for "little houses."

Cute name -- but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says these things can be really nasty. They're made out of a wide variety of materials, including corrugated tin, plastic and cement.

When lobsters seek shelter under the artificial habitats, poachers can catch as many as 1,500 a day, far exceedng the daily catch limit of 250.

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Wildlife
9:50 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Lobster Mini-Season Comes With Restrictions In The Keys

The two-day recreational mini-season for spiny lobster is hugely popular in the Keys, despite special restrictions along the island chain.
Credit Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

The two-day spiny lobster sport season -- known as the mini-season -- is intended to give recreational lobster hunters a chance to  get their hands on the tasty crustaceans before commercial traps go in the water.

In practice it's become a hugely popular opening rush in the Florida Keys, where lobsters are usually plentiful.

This despite the fact that the Keys carry special restrictions during mini-season.

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Session 2014
7:00 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Keys Lawmaker Takes On Lobster Mobsters

The penalties may get tougher for illegally catching large numbers of spiny tailed lobsters.
Credit Richard Elzey/Flickr

It’s illegal to take lobsters out of season or out of traps that don’t belong to you. But Keys State Representative Holly Raschein (R-Monroe County) says the issue is that the penalty for stealing three lobsters is the same as stealing 300.

RELATED: Inside The Life Of A Florida Keys Lobster Catcher 

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Lobster Woman
6:00 am
Mon September 2, 2013

How One Woman Lives At Sea: Inside The Life Of A Florida Keys Lobster Catcher

Patricia Sagastume

It’s past sunset as 28-year old Captain Kelly Nichols Bourne and her crew return from a day of hauling lobsters traps. When she joined her father’s business a decade ago, she was the youngest female commercial captain in the Keys. She still is. Now she and her father drop about 7,600 lobster and 8,000 crab traps from the Gulf to the Atlantic.

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