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FL spiny lobster trap/pot

Current Classification on the 2017 LOF

Category III
Estimated Number of Participants 1,268
Target Species Spiny lobster
Applicable Take Reduction Plans None
Observer Coverage Not observed
Marine Mammal Species/Stocks Killed or Injured Bottlenose dolphin, Biscayne Bay estuarine;
Bottlenose dolphin, Central FL coastal;
Bottlenose dolphin, Eastern GMX coastal;
Bottlenose dolphin, FL Bay estuarine;
Bottlenose dolphin, FL Keys

^ Number of participants estimates are based on state and federal fisheries permit data.  The estimated number of participants is expressed in terms of the number of active participants in the fishery, when possible.  If this information is not available, the estimated number of vessels or persons licensed for a particular fishery is provided.  If no recent information is available on the number of participants, then the number from the most recent LOF is used.  NMFS acknowledges that, in some cases, these estimations may be inflating actual effort.  

*Observer coverage levels include the latest information reported in the most current final Stock Assessment Report (SAR)

1Indicates the stock or species is driving the classification of the fishery 

Note: Current classification based on final LOF, no proposed changes are reflected in this table.

Basis for Current Classification

Category III fishery under the MMPA due to a remote likelihood of mortalities or serious injuries to marine mammals.


Commercial landings have been reported in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas since 1962. But in 35 of the 45 years from 1962­2006, all landings were in FL. Effort takes place on both the Atlantic and Gulf side of the Florida Keys, with diving most commonly occurring on Gulf side. Fishing occurs in waters less than 100 ft. The commercial and regular recreational spiny lobster seasons start on August 6 and end on March 31. 

Gear Description

Lobster trap/pot is a cube typically made of wood with concrete in the bottom. A buoy is attached to the trap via a float line and marked with a “C” for spiny lobster traps. Traps may be set several miles apart and set to soak on average from 8 to 28 days.


Managed jointly by the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. The fishery is currently managed via bag limits, minimum size limits, regulated fishing seasons for the commercial and recreational sectors, gear restrictions, trap construction requirements, and a trap limitation and permitting program. (cite jess’s 2011SAR description).

Total Effort

Over the last 10 years, commercial trap fishing has been the dominant gear type in the spiny lobster fishery, accounting for approximately 70 percent of all commercial landings (Robson 2006). The remaining landings are collected via divers by hand or via bully nets (which accounts for only a very small percentage). A trap limitation program initiated by the State of Florida in 1993 has reduced the number of lobster traps available annually from approximately one million to 485,891 trap tag certificates for the 2010 season (A. Podey, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) to A. Herndon, NMFS, pers. comm., 2010).


Historical Information

Original Category (Year added to the LOF) III (2001)
Original Number of Participants 2,145
Basis for Original Classification Created by splitting the "Southeastern U.S.
Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean spiny lobster trap/pot" into this fishery and the "Caribbean
spiny lobster trap pot"
Past Names Southeastern U.S. Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean spiny lobster trap/pot. 2001
Species/stocks historically documented as killed or injured (but not currently on the list) N/A

Timeline of Changes

  • Added bottlenose dolphin (FL Keys) based on one live dolphin disentangled and released alive in 2013.

Updated December 14, 2016