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Safety First As Divers Prepare For Start Of Lobster Mini-Season

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Lobster mini season kicks off Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. prompting local leaders to celebrate as well as authorities to remind the public of the rules.

As part of the mini season's arrival, Florid Governor Rick Scott hosted a kick off reception on Tuesday afternoon in Key Largo.

"Tomorrow we'll be going lobstering but Saturday I'll be taking my 3 and a half year old granddaughter fishing out in Key Largo and I can remember when my daughter was 3 and a half we were fishing and the bait was this size, the fish was this size and she told me 'don't tell anybody about this spot,'" said Gov. Scott.

For the Brill family, catching lobsters is their main goal and it's something they've been doing for as long as they can remember. It starts with dad Mike going bully netting at midnight.

"It's a long pole with a net stick, net over lobster and pull them up," said boater Mike Brill.

In the daylight hours, they dive.

"Our family's been doing it ever since the kids were little," said Kim Brill. "The kids and Mike are great and I'm still a work in progress."

Meantime, South Florida authorities are reminding everyone who plans on catching spiny lobsters to familiarize themselves with the rules so they won't get in trouble.

"There is no reason to violate the laws," said Officer Jorge Pino with Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

According to state law, during the two-day lobster season, recreational divers and snorkelers can take up to 12 lobsters per person per day for Florida except for one county.

In Monroe County, you are allowed to take six lobsters per person per day but you cannot go night diving. That is not allowed during the mini season.

There is an exception to the daily quota this year. Those who catch 10 or more lionfish, are allowed to get one more lobster.

"Lionfish are the enemy of the sea," said Pino.

The incentive is in place to help cut back on the invasive species. To read the requirements, click here.

Spiny lobsters need to have a carapace length greater than three inches to be harvested. Divers are required to have a measuring device and lobsters must be in the water while they are measured.

Click here to find out how to measure them. 

If you find an egg-bearing female lobster, put it down. You are not allowed to take them.

As for the ones you are allowed to take, the lobsters must remain in whole condition until they are brought to shore.

Florida Wildlife officials say it's against regulations to harvest lobsters in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Spiny Lobster Sanctuary and no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

If you break the rules, it's a third degree misdemeanor with a possible sentences of six months or more in jail.

Above all, authorities want the public to be safe.

"No lobster is worth your life," said Pino. "If you feel uncomfortable, first time in a few years you've gone diving, we recommend you go to Publix or Winn-Dixie and buy your lobster instead of killing yourself for that bug."

For more on the Spiny Lobster mini season, click here.

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