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FWC Officials Hope For A Safe, Plentiful Lobster Mini-Season

MIAMI (CBS4) – Lobster lovers across South Florida rejoicing because when the clock struck midnight Tuesday night, thousands of South Florida divers took to the sea for Florida's annual lobster mini-season, and officials have dogs on standby to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Law enforcement is expecting large crowds of lobster fans to hit the water for two days of lobster hunting.  To help keep things legal, they'll be using specially trained dogs to conduct boat inspections. The dogs are trained for game detection and can sniff out resource violations.

"We're going to have four dogs in the area that are going to be out there making sure that people do the right thing," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Jorge Pino.  "Unfortunately we have individuals that like to go out there, they get their limit, (but) that's not enough for them."

The FWC says the dogs' noses are so sensitive; they can do in five minutes what would take an officer more than half an hour to do.

"Our dogs are trained to detect wildlife hidden in different compartments in vessels, hidden in dive gear, hidden in vehicles," said FWC officer Hank Juntunen.

Pino said there are plenty of rules that boaters and divers need to know before they hit the water.

"We are going to be there strictly enforcing all these rules and regulations," said Pino.

Click here for a Guide to Florida's Lobster Mini-Season.

"If you are found in violation it's a second degree misdemeanor, depending on what violation it is, could be six months in jail, up to a $500 fine, we can take all your equipment if we choose to, we can confiscate your vessel if we need to," said Pino.

The special two-day spiny lobster sport season begins at midnight, July 27 and lasts for just 48 hours. It's followed by the regular lobster season Aug. 6 through March 31.

The special two-day sport season occurs on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July each year to let recreational harvesters collect spiny lobsters before commercial lobster traps are placed in the water on Aug 1.

And if you need more information, just click here for the FWC website for additional rules, regulations and important information about lobster mini-season.

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