At its February meeting in Crystal River, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved several changes to the spiny lobster bully net fishery, including directing staff to launch a “Respectful Bully Netting” outreach campaign.
The FWC has received input from stakeholders about the increasing participation in the commercial bully net lobster fishery, and these changes will help address some of those concerns.
Changes to the commercial fishery effective May 1 will include:
- Creating an open-access commercial bully net lobster endorsement available to commercial fishers who hold a crawfish endorsement.
- Requiring commercial bully net vessels be marked with the harvester’s bully net endorsement number using reflective paint or other reflective material.
- Prohibiting trap pullers on commercial bully net vessels.
- Prohibiting the simultaneous possession of a bully net and any underwater breathing apparatus (not including dive masks or snorkels) aboard a vessel used to harvest or transport lobster for commercial purposes.
- Updating the definition of “commercial harvester” to include the bully net endorsement.
For information on commercial spiny lobster fishery regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Commercial” and “Lobster.”
For more information on the presentation given to the Commission, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings,” then click on the link below “Next Meeting.”
How to use a Bully Net for Spiny Lobster
At Spiny Lobsters search for their food at night. This makes it easier to catch them if you are Bully Netting.
Bully netting is done at in shallow water, 1-6 feet deep from a drifting boat. Bully nets can be purchased ready-made or you can make one yourself. The hoop portion of the Bully Net needs to be large enough to easily encircle a spiny lobster and at right angles to the pole. The pole needs to be long enough for you to easily reach the bottom.
You will need sufficient lighting to be able to see the spiny lobsters crawling on the bottom. These lights can be mounted above the water line or below it. Underwater lights are preferred since they reduce glare.
Grass Flats are prime spots to find Spiny Lobster. As you drift along and spot a lobster, position the net directly over the lobster and plunge the bully net straight down to the bottom, trapping the lobster. Let the net settle and slide the net along the bottom until the spiny lobster is in the cone end of the net, past the net ring. Lift the net straight up trapping the spiny lobster in the net and into the boat. Remember to immediately the spiny lobster immediately to be sure it is legal size and if not return it to the water.