Spiny Lobster

Spiny Lobster Amendment 13: Modifications to the Spiny Lobster Gear Requirements and Cooperative Management Procedures

This Amendment aligns federal regulations with Florida regulations for spiny lobster commercial harvesters using bully net gear. Spiny lobster commercial harvesters using bully net gear:

• must have a bully net permit from Florida,

• must mark buoys with the harvester’s Florida bully net permit number using reflective paint or other reflective material,

• are prohibited from having trap pullers onboard,

• are prohibited from the simultaneous possession of a bully net and any underwater breathing apparatus (not including dive masks or snorkels) onboard a vessel used to harvest or transport spiny lobster for commercial purposes.

Additionally, this Amendment creates a commercial 250 lobster per day, per vessel limit for spiny lobsters harvested by bully net in federal waters off Florida and for spiny lobster harvested by diving in federal waters off of Broward, Dade, Monroe, Collier, and Lee Counties in Florida. This Amendment also allows baited commercial spiny lobster traps to be placed in the water beginning on the Saturday immediately following the recreational mini season, and modifies the cooperative management procedure to allow Florida to request changes to the spiny lobster federal regulations through NMFS rulemaking.

Regulations for commercial trap soak period are effective July 26, 2019.

Regulations for the rest of the rule are effective August 30, 2019.

Regulatory Amendment 4:  Spiny Lobster Annual Catch Limits and Targets and Recreational Trap Prohibition in the South Atlantic

Using a longer time series of data, this Amendment updates the spiny lobster MSY proxy and Maximum Fishing Mortality Threshold to equal the revised Over Fishing Limit of 10,460,000 pounds. The Amendment also sets the Annual Catch Limit (ACL) equal to the Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) at 9,600,000 pounds, and sets the Annual Catch Target 10% below that, at 8,640,000 pounds. This amendment also establishes a trigger mechanism to convene a review panel if a minimum value of landings is not met for two consecutive years.  Finally, the amendment prohibits the use of traps for recreational harvest of spiny lobster in the South Atlantic federal waters.

This final rule is effective July 23, 2018.

Spiny Lobster Amendment 11: Closed Areas for Spiny Lobster Commercial Trap Fishing

The Endangered Species Act requires that fishing activities authorized by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service do as little harm as possible to threatened or endangered species. A recent Biological Opinion of the Spiny Lobster fishery concluded that spiny lobster trap fishing activities put sea turtles, smalltooth sawfish, and staghorn and elkhorn corals at risk. The Biological Opinion specified ways to minimize the impact of the spiny lobster trap fishery on these protected species and set requirements for the terms and conditions under which action must be taken.

This amendment was approved during the February 2012 Council meeting and creates new closed areas to reduce the impacts of lobster traps on protected coral species.

This final rule is effective August 27, 2012.

Spiny Lobster Amendment 10

Establishes annual catch limits and accountability measures for Caribbean spiny lobster; removes other species from the fishery management unit (smoothtail spiny lobster, spotted spiny lobster, Spanish slipper lobster, ridged slipper lobster); defines maximum sustainable yield; sets annual catch limits and accountability measures; considers sector allocations; updates the protocol for enhanced cooperative management; modifies the regulations regarding the use of undersized lobster as bait as well as tailing permit requirements; and addresses the removal of abandoned traps in Florida waters.

This final rule is effective January 3, 2012. The incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in the rule is approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of January 3, 2012.

Spiny Lobster Amendment 9 (South Atlantic Council)

Provided spatial information for Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) and EFH-Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPC) designations for species in the Spiny Lobster fishery management plan (FMP).

This final rule is effective July 22, 2010.

Spiny Lobster Amendment 8

Amendment 8 restricts imports of spiny lobster into the U.S. to minimum conservation standards in an effort to achieve an increase in the spawning biomass of the stock and increase long-term yields from the fishery.

The final rule is effective February 11, 2009.

Regulatory Amendment 3

Implemented in October 2002, this regulatory amendment increases the number of undersized lobster that are allowed to be transported in aerated live wells aboard commercial vessels to 50 per boat and 1 per trap aboard each boat. In the commercial fishery, undersized lobster are used as decoys to attract non-captive lobster into traps.

Spiny Lobster Amendment 7

Amendment 7 was the Council’s Generic Amendment addressing the establishment of the Tortugas Marine Reserves.

This final rule is effective August 19, 2002.

Spiny Lobster Amendment 5 & 6 (South Atlantic Council)

Amendments 5 and 6 were the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s (SAFMC) Generic Amendments for Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) and Sustainable Fisheries Act, respectively.

This final rule is effective December 2, 1999.

This final rule is effective July 14, 2000.

Regulatory Amendment 2: March 1993

Implemented in March 1993, this regulatory amendment addressed: (1) a change in the days for the special recreational season in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off Florida; (2) a prohibition on night-time harvest off Monroe County, Florida, during that season; (3) specifies allowable gear during that season; and (4) provides for different bag limits during that season off the Florida Keys and the EEZ off other areas of Florida.

This final rule is effective July 24, 1993.

Regulatory Amendment 1: May 1992

Implemented in May 1992, this regulatory amendment addressed: (1) extension of the Florida spiny lobster trap certificate system for reducing the number of traps in the commercial fishery to the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off Florida; (2) revision of the fishery mangament plan (FMP) commercial permitting requirements; (3) limitation of the number of live undersize lobster used as attractants for baiting traps; (4) specification of gear allowed for commercial fishing in the EEZ off Florida; (5) specification of the possession limit of spiny lobsters by persons diving at night; (6) requirement of lobsters harvested by divers be measured without removing from the water; and (7) specification of uniform trap and buoy numbers for the EEZ off Florida.  All of these changes were implemented through the framework procedure of the FMP as established by Amendment 2.

This final rule is effective December 30, 1992.

Spiny Lobster Amendment 4

Amendment 4 allows harvest year-round for any person who is limited to a daily bag and possession limit of 2 lobsters per person in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

This final rule is effective September 13, 1995, except for S 640.23(a) and (b) which will be effective [September 21, 1995. The incorporations by reference of certain sections of the Florida Administrative Code and Florida Statutes are approved by the Director of the Office of the Federal Register as of September 13, 1995.

Spiny Lobster Amendment 3

Amendment 3 contained provisions for adding a scientifically measurable definition of overfishing, an action plan to prevent overfishing, should it occur, as required by the Magnuson Act National Standards (50 CFR Part 602), and the requirement for collection of fees for the administrative cost of issuing permits. The fishery management plan (FMP), as amended, provides for management of the fishery throughout its range from North Carolina through Texas. However, the commercial fishery and, to a very large extent, the recreational fishery, occur off South Florida and principally off Monroe County in the Florida Keys (96 percent of landings in 1984).

This final rule is effective March 25, 1991 (56 FR 12357).

Spiny Lobster Amendment 2

Amendment 2 provided a regulatory amendment procedure for instituting future compatible State and federal rules without amending the fishery management plan (FMP).

This final rule is effective October 27, 1989 (54 FR 48059).

Spiny Lobster Amendment 1

Amendment 1 updated the fishery management plan (FMP) rules to be more compatible with that of Florida (state). The management measures included: limiting attractants to 100 per vessel, requiring live wells, requiring a commercial vessel permit, provided for a recreational permit, limited recreational possession to 6 lobsters, modified the special 2-day recreational season before commercial season, modified the duration of the closed commercial season, provided a 10-day trap retrieval period, prohibited possession of egg-bearing spiny lobster, specified the minimum size limit for tails, provided for a tail separation permit, and prohibited possession of egg-bearing slipper lobster.

  • Final Rule Effective May 11, 1988.
  • Final Rule Effective July 30, 1990, except that | 640.4 is effective June 28, 1990.

Original Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan

The Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Spiny Lobster in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic  was implemented July 2, 1982 (47 FR 29203).

The FMP largely extended Florida’s rules regulating the fishery to the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) throughout the range of the fishery, i.e. North Carolina to Texas. The management measures included: specifying minimum size limit and closed season, requiring degradable panels, prohibiting use of spears or hooks, limited attractant to 200 per vessel, required attractants to be held in shaded box, required trap number and color code be displayed, created special recreational 2-day season before commercial season, prohibited possession of egg-bearing lobster, and required reporting of landings.

This final rule is effective June 30, 1982; except for § 640.6, 640.20(c). 640.21. 640.22. 640.23. 640.24, and those prohibitions in § 640.7 that cross-reference these sections. which are effective on July 28, 1982.