Day one of the 2019 lobster miniseason
A St. Petersburg, Florida, man spent the night in the Florida Keys jail Wednesday night after state wildlife police say he kept a dozen more spiny lobsters than is allowed by law.
The legal bag limit for lobsters in Monroe County is six per person, but Christopher Seemann, 46, caught 18 of them while scuba diving underneath the Vaca Cut Bridge in Marathon Wednesday afternoon, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission arrest report.
Seemann, who could not be reached for comment, was with two other people, but FWC officers stated in their report that he was the only person they saw hunting for lobsters.
The eight-month recreational and commercial lobster season began Tuesday, and Monroe County law enforcement — from the FWC, the sheriff’s office to the State Attorney’s Office — has been clear that what might get you a fine in other parts of the state for violating the rules could land you in jail in the Keys.
“Those cited by law enforcement for violating the lobster laws 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,” Larry Kahn, spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office, said in news release this week.
Seemann was booked into county jail at 6 p.m. Wednesday and released at 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon with an order to appear in court.
In addition to the six-lobster-per-person rule in the Keys, which is 12 lobsters in the rest of the state, police also stress that their carapace — the part that’s not the tail — must be at least three inches long, and measuring must take place in the water. Tails may not be wrung until the lobsters are brought back to shore.
Harvesting egg-bearing female lobsters is also prohibited, as is catching any lobster with a speargun.
The regular lobster season is preceded every year by a two-day “miniseason” at the end of July where thousands of divers, snorkelers and bullynetters come to South Florida and the Keys for a chance to catch the popular, clawless, crustaceans.