South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Lobster, Spiny

Lobster, Spiny

Lobster, Spiny

Crawfish, Panulirus argus
Recreational
All areas are open for recreational fishing.
Commercial
All areas are open for commercial fishing.

Commonly referred to as the Florida spiny lobster, the Caribbean spiny lobster inhabits tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Spiny lobsters get their name from the forward-pointing spines that cover their bodies to help protect them from predators. They vary in color from almost white to dark red-orange. Two large, cream-colored spots on the top of the second segment of the tail make spiny lobsters easy to identify. They have long antennae over their eyes that they wave to scare off predators and smaller antennae-like structures called antennules that sense movement and detect chemicals in the water.

Adult spiny lobsters make their homes in the protected crevices and caverns of coral reefs, sponge flats, and other hard-bottomed areas. The lobsters spawn from March through August and female lobsters carry the bright orange eggs on their undersides until they turn brown and hatch. Larvae can be carried for thousands of miles by currents until they settle in shallow nearshore areas among seagrass and algae beds. They feed on small snails and crabs. The lobsters are solitary until they reach the juvenile stage, when they begin to congregate around protective habitat in nearshore areas. As they begin to mature, spiny lobsters migrate from the nursery areas to offshore reefs.

Lobsters stay in their dens during daylight hours to avoid predators, emerging a couple of hours after dark to forage for food. While lobsters will eat almost anything, their favorite diet consists mostly of snails, clams, crabs, and urchins. The lobsters return to the safety of their dens several hours before sunrise. (Excerpt taken from: http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/crustaceans/lobster/facts/)

Regulations

NC, SC, GA

  • Season is currently open.
  • 2 Bag Limit
  • Min. Size: 3 in Carapace Length
  • Notes:

    Divers must measure carapace while in water. Undersized lobster must be released unharmed immediately without removal from water. Removal of tail at sea is prohibited without permit.

    No taking of berried (eggbearing) spiny lobster or slipper lobster.

    No spears, hooks, or piercing devices. Explosives prohibited.

    Offshore of Florida, bag limit increased to 6 per person off Florida. Also, season closed in Florida from April 1 to August 5. Special non-trap season off Florida is last Wednesday and successive Thursday in July.

    ———-

    Federally Permitted Charter/Headboats: -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that fish. -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in state waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters but open in state waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that species. -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in state waters but open to harvest in federal waters, they may retain that fish if they do not stop to fish in state waters when returning to port. All gear must be stowed.

    For more information on management of South Atlantic federal fisheries, please visit SAFMC or NOAA Fisheries.

    To see commercial regulations, download Fish Rules Commercial App for iOS devices or Android devices.

FL

  • Season is currently open.
  • Season Closed: July 29, 2022 – August 05, 2022
  • Season Closed: April 01, 2023 – August 05, 2023
  • 6 Bag Limit
  • Min. Size: 3 in Carapace Length
  • Notes:

    Florida’s special non-trap season (Mini) season is July 27-28, 2022.

    Divers must measure carapace while in water.

    Undersized lobster must be released unharmed immediately without removal from water.

    Removal of tail at sea is prohibited without permit.

    No taking of berried (eggbearing) lobster of any species.

    No spears, hooks, or piercing devices. Explosives prohibited.

    Bag limit = 2 per person off NC, SC, and GA.

    ———-

    Federally Permitted Charter/Headboats: -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that fish. -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in state waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters but open in state waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that species. -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in state waters but open to harvest in federal waters, they may retain that fish if they do not stop to fish in state waters when returning to port. All gear must be stowed.

    For more information, see: SAFMC Spiny Lobster Commercial Regulations

    To see commercial regulations, download Fish Rules Commercial App for iOS devices or Android devices.

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