Lobster Fishing Regulations

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Lobsters are a commercial and recreational food resource considered a valuable delicacy throughout the United States. To help prevent over fishing, many states set regulations regarding the recreational catching of lobsters.

The regulations vary by state, aiming to ensure that lobster populations thrive for many generations to come and to protect fishermen.

Lobster Season

Individuals can only fish for the clawed crustaceans during lobster season. State governments regulate the dates of a lobster season and the hours individuals can fish for lobsters. For example, the 2010 to 2011 lobster season in California begins on October 2, 2010 and ends on March 16, 2011. In Florida, however, the lobster season runs from July 28 to July 29, and from August 6 to March 31.

Lobster Permits

Just like fishing for fish, an individual must have a permit to fish for lobster. The prices of permits are different in every state that has lobsters in their waters. In addition, some states only give lobster permits to residents of the state or to those who are above a certain age. To find out more information about lobster fishing permits in your area, contact the local fish and game service. Stores that sell lobster-fishing permits, such as sporting good or fishing equipment stores, may also be able to provide you with information and sell you permits.

Lobster Size

As in other types of fishing sports, the lobsters you are able to keep must be a certain size. In Florida, for example, a lobster’s carapace (upper back) must be at least 3 inches long when measured in the water. In California, however, the length of the rear edge of the body shell to the rear edge of a lobster’s eye socket must measure 3 1/4 inches. Some states require lobster fishers to have a ruler or a lobster gauge with them when catching lobster.

Female and Tagged Lobsters

Some states, such as Massachusetts, do not allow fishers to keep female lobsters that have a triangular-shaped notch, also called a v-notch. This is because these are egg-bearing lobsters. Commercial lobster fishers place the notches on the tail flipper of a female lobster. In addition, lobster fishers cannot keep tagged or marked lobsters they catch because scientists are studying the crustacean.

Catch Limits

Individuals fishing for lobster can only keep a certain amount every day. States limit either the amount of bags of lobsters individuals can keep or the amount of individual crustaceans fishers can keep. For example, the Florida allows fishers to keep six bags of lobster per day, while Massachusetts only allows fishers to keep 15 total lobsters per day.