Anyone who plans to participate in catching lobster in Monroe County during the two day season — which runs from 12:01 a.m. July 29 to 11:59 p.m. July 30 — should make sure to familiarize themselves with both state law and with local ordinances in the Florida Keys. Details and information can be found in the attached pamphlet or at http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/lobster/
Note that some boat ramps will be closed or only open to residents due to COVID-19 concerns. For more information about public boat ramps and COVID-19 related news/regulations in Monroe County, visit http://www.monroecountyem.com/1181/Boating-Fishing-Boat-Ramps
Additionally, Sheriff Rick Ramsay would like to remind everyone who lives here and who is visiting: marine thefts commonly happen in the Florida Keys and thieves may see the two day sport season as an opportunity to target people who aren’t being careful with their valuables. Make sure you remove electronics, fishing and diving gear from your boat when you aren’t on it and store this valuable equipment somewhere secure.
During the two day sport season, the Sheriff’s Office will have extra patrols at boat ramps, bridges and on the water. Anyone caught with illegal lobster will be charged accordingly. Those cited by law enforcement for violating the regulations can choose to fight the allegations in court – and if they lose, penalties for each violation can include up to 60 days in jail and fines up to $500.
All Sheriff’s Office boats will be on patrol, and deputies will also be operating a number of personal watercraft donated to the Sheriff’s Office by Riva Motorsports & Marine of the Keys in Key Largo donates the Yamaha WaveRunners each year to be used for law enforcement purposes such as this, as well as for regular patrols of hard to reach shoreline areas and residential canals.
Remember: You must have a recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit to recreationally harvest spiny lobsters unless you are exempt from recreational license requirements. Information about these licenses and permits is available online at MyFWC.com/License. Attached is a detailed brochure with information about the various rules that apply in different areas of the Keys. Make sure to review the rules for the area in which you will be harvesting lobster. Rules and laws vary depending on where you are in the Florida Keys.
Before, during and just after the two day sport season there will be more boats and trailers on the roadways, and more traffic in general. Sheriff Ramsay wants to remind everyone to drive carefully. Pay attention to those around you, be patient and don’t pass in no passing zones. Drinking and driving is, of course, illegal; drunk boating is also illegal and our officers will be watching for this dangerous behavior on the water as well as on the roadways of the county.
“Everyone needs to be aware of the law and act in a safe, responsible manner, especially while on the water,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “Please follow the COVID-19 related rules regarding face masks and social distancing. Be patient, be safe and have fun.”