Gone Fishin'? DeSantis Creates Florida-Only Lobster Season, Prizes for Lionfish-Capture

Gone Fishin'? DeSantis Creates Florida-Only Lobster Season, Prizes for Lionfish-Capture

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
June 19, 2024

MARATHON, FL—Governor Ron DeSantis announced a Florida-man-style package on Wednesday morning, touting a day of lobster-catching just for Florida residents plus increased prizes for lionfish capturers and $5 million for artificial reefs.

Spiny lobsters are one of the largest crustaceans in the Caribbean Sea and a South Florida delicacy. However, their declining populations have led to restrictions on how many may be caught: during the regular season, August 6th to March 31st, lobsterers can bag up to six per person. During the mini-season—July 24th to July 25th—hopeful divers can bring home six a piece in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park, and 12 in the rest of the state.

This year, however, Governor DeSantis had a surprise:

"We want to make sure Floridians have adequate opportunities [to catch lobster]," DeSantis said at a Marathon press conference, referencing that last year alone, an astonishing 432,000 lobsters were caught statewide during the Special Two-Day Sport Season, and around 1.5 million during the first month of the regular season.

"We're adding another day [to the mini-season], Sunday, July 14th...that is only for Florida residents."

The lobster-fest wonders don't end there but instead, tie into another marine species—the lionfish. Indigenous to the Indo-Pacific region, lionfish were officially categorized as an invasive species in the early 2000s after their populations exploded off the Florida coast. They disrupt the state's already struggling coral reef systems, which birthed the 2016 idea of the Lionfish Challenge.

Similar to Florida's Python Challenge (which begins in August), recreational and commercial citizens who remove the most lionfish will be rewarded with prize money or...spiny lobster.

"The lionfish are very, very invasive, and they really wreak havoc on the ecosystem," DeSantis said, lauding that since 2014, Florida has overseen the removal of over 1 million lionfish. In past years, he said, those who recreationally capture 25 or more lionfish or commercially catch 50 pounds or more of them would be allowed to get one more spiny lobster per day during lobster season.

This year, however, "We're going to up the ante," he said. "You get to harvest two extra lobsters per day during spiny lobster season."

Lastly, he announced, that there was $5 million in the budget for creating artificial reefs along the Florida coasts.

More than 90% of Florida's corals have died over the past 40 years, mostly attributed to rising water temperatures causing stress to marine life. An innovative way to solve this issue is artificial reefs, which are human-made structures often made out of concrete, steel, old ships, sunken objects, or reef modules, that are placed on the seafloor to enhance marine habitats.

Throughout the DeSantis administration, Florida has allocated around $26.5 million toward artificial reefs and planned over 4,300 of these structures in hopes of resuscitating Florida's barrier reef—the third-largest in the world.

"Since I became Governor, we've done $114 million for coral reef recovery and coastal protection efforts—you've never seen anything like that."




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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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