Florida's two-day sport lobster season starts Wednesday.
It gives recreational divers two days to catch lobster before commercial operations begin ahead of the regular lobster season, which begins August 6th.
Participants must have a recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit to recreationally harvest unless they are exempt from recreational license requirements.
Only six lobsters are allowed per person for Monroe County and Biscayne National Park, however 12 per person for the rest of Florida.
Florida wildlife officials have details on bag limits, size limits, where to harvest and other regulations on their website .
Wildlife officials are asking harvesters using bully netting to keep lights directed toward the water and avoid shining them at houses or people along the shoreline.
Law enforcement will have extra patrols at boat ramps, bridges and on the water and warn that anyone caught with illegal lobster will be charged accordingly. Penalties can include up to 60 days in jail and fines up to $500.
FWC urges all divers to exercise caution and implement the following tips:
- Have a medical assessment completed by a doctor before diving.
- Plan the dive and provide a float plan to someone ashore who can report divers overdue if they do not return as planned.
- Never dive alone.
- Choose dives that match one's training, experience and fitness level.
- Practice emergency procedures, like dropping one's weight belt and inflating the buoyancy compensator, in a controlled environment.
“Properly displaying your dive flag anytime swimmers are in the water will alert surrounding boaters," said Chief Warrant Officer Chad Turner, commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Key West. "A dive flag is for the safety of the swimmer and the boater. The boaters must maintain bare speed within 100 yards of the flag, and swimmers should be reminded that they must be aware of their distance to their flag."