The two-day annual lobster miniseason came to a quiet end at 12:01 a.m. Friday with a few arrests, plenty of citations, and most importantly, no deaths in South Florida.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission police officers made a handful of arrests in the Keys from Wednesday through Thursday, and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office arrested three people for fisheries violations connected with the short sport season.
Around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested two Cocoa Beach men after they said they caught them spearfishing lobster near mile marker 12, which is illegal in the Florida Keys. Christopher James Arthur, 23, and Devon Matthew Tribbit, 21, were booked on charges of spearfishing lobster, fishing without a license, not having a lobster permit, no dive flag, no measuring device and possession of wrung tails.
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Also on Thursday, a deputy cited a man fishing at the Vaca Cut Bridge in Marathon with possession of stone crabs (season starts Oct. 15) and possession of two undersized lobsters.
Police from several agencies in Miami-Dade and Broward counties were also busy with marine patrol duties for miniseason. Rob Klepper, an FWC spokesman, said FWC officers “made a few cases” in both counties, including one man, Micheal Patrick Whitney Jr., 30, who was arrested after he was caught going out twice in one day, and catching his daily limit on each trip.
FWC officers inspected his haul at the Crandon Park Marina boat ramp on Key Biscayne at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. He was with another person, and together, they had 24 lobsters. The daily limit during miniseason outside of the Keys and Biscayne National Park is 12 per person, so everything appeared fine.
However, while the officers were checking the lobsters, another FWC boat arrived and one of the officers on that vessel said he stopped Whitney’s boat at 1 a.m. that day and he had 24 lobsters on board at that time.
The U.S. Coast Guard, southeast sector, sent out a statement on Twitter Friday that its crews, working with FWC, boarded 40 boats in the Fort Lauderdale area and checked a total of 450 lobsters.
Now that miniseason is over, recreational anglers cannot catch Florida spiny lobsters until the regular and commercial season begins Aug. 6. Commercial anglers can put their traps in the water Aug. 1, but cannot pull them before Aug. 6.