Day one of the 2019 lobster miniseason
Violating fisheries laws in the Florida Keys will get you in more trouble with law enforcement than in other parts of the state, which two men from Gulf Breeze found out this week.
According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, George Michael Holcomb, 62, and David Michael Anderson, 63, caught 24 spiny lobster Sunday afternoon, which is 12 over the limit in the Keys.
The men were diving for the crustaceans from a vessel just offshore near mile marker 62 on Conch Key when Deputy Wilfredo Guerra conducted a vessel check and found 12 lobsters in a bucket and 12 more in a cooler, Adam Linhardt, sheriff’s office spokesman, said.
The legal bag limit in Florida during regular season is six per person, per day.
Guerra also found eight wrung tails on the boat, which, according to Linhardt, they said they caught the previous day. Six of the lobsters were undersized, Linhardt said.
By state law, all lobsters must be brought back to shore whole. All lobsters must be measured in the water, and their carapace, the part that is not the tail, must be at least 3 inches long. Tails must be at least 5 and a half inches long.
Holcomb and Anderson, who could not be reached for comment, were issued notices to appear in county court on multiple fisheries violations.
Similar violations have resulted in arrests and landed people in jail recently. The eight-month commercial and recreational season for the sought-after shellfish began Aug. 6, and Monroe County State Attorney Dennis Ward vowed to treat breaking lobster rules as a serious crime that could result in up to 60 days in jail per violation.
The original story incorrectly stated that the bag limit in Florida outside of the Keys is 12 lobsters per person. That is only during the annual two-day “miniseason” in July. During the regular season, the limit is six per person statewide.