Spiny lobster mini-season is mixed bag for locals

FLORIDA KEYS — Ernie Piton doesn’t really like lobster mini-season.

The two-day event, on July 24 and 25, is expected to bring tens of thousands of visitors into Florida Keys to eat at local restaurants, drink at local bars and sleep in local hotels. But more importantly, they are here to catch local spiny lobsters.

Piton is a Key Largo-based commercial lobsterman who says it’s going to take a lot of law enforcement to keep the rowdy crowd in check.

“I am not a big fan of it at all,” he said of the two-day event. “It’s getting bigger and bigger every year.”

Piton is concerned that recreational lobster harvesters will make multiple trips out into the water to catch more than their allotted daily limit of six lobsters. He also worries that the amateurs will take the egg-bearing lobsters, thereby limiting the reproductive value of the stock.

Though he doesn’t like the annul event, Piton said he is entertaining some out-of-town friends this week and will likely find himself out with the masses hunting for lobster.

As for the commercial lobster season, which runs from Aug. 6 to March 31, he is hopeful.

“We won’t really know how the season is until after the first month,” he said.

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