Lobster Catching

Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission

By late last week, people and boats were already trickling in to the Florida Keys for the lobster sport mini-season.

They were getting ready for the two-day event, taking place Wednesday and Thursday,  when recreational divers get a jump on catching the tasty crustaceans. The regular lobster season, when commercial fishermen can start bringing in their catch, starts Aug. 6.

NOAA's National Ocean Service/Flickr

The invasion of lionfish throughout Florida waters is a challenge to native Florida wildlife and to the ecosystems where they live. The state has organized derbies and training sessions on how to catch — and cook the fish — which have no natural predators here.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The spiny lobster season ended March 31. State biologists say it looks like the total catch will be slightly lower than last year — but the seafood that came to the market fetched record-high prices.

Lobster Casitas Get Thumbs Down From State

Dec 3, 2014
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.


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.

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.

Keys Lawmaker Takes On Lobster Mobsters

Jan 14, 2014
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 

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.