The spiny lobster season ended March 31. State biologists say it looks like the total catch will be slightly lower than last year — but the seafood that came to the market fetched record-high prices.
While the fishery itself is in good shape, the largest threat facing the people who make their living on the water comes from the land side. Development pressure, which chased the commercial fishing industry out of Key West to Stock Island decades ago, is now reaching that island as well. The Monroe County Commission is even considering buying some commercial waterfront on Stock Island, to prevent it from being turned into a site for hotels and recreational marinas.
George Niles has been fishing for lobster out of Stock Island for decades. He's a former president of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association and recently addressed the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council about the spiny lobster fishery.
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