Mini-lobster season still on amid concerns

Monroe County closes some public boat ramps during lobster mini-season
Monroe County closes some public boat ramps during lobster mini-season

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rejected a request Wednesday to cancel the upcoming mini-lobster season over concerns about crowds spreading COVID-19.

However, commissioners expressed concern that numerous public boat ramps will be closed in the upper Keys.

“What’s a little bit alarming, although we have not canceled mini season, is the fact that in Islamorada and everything north, including Monroe County, public marinas for boat ramps are being closed,” Commissioner Rodney Barreto said. “You have all these people coming down to the Keys that have reservations for hotels to stay, and public boat ramps are going to be closed.”

Commissioners, who met online, did not go along with a request from the Islamorada Village Council to halt the two-day mini-lobster season on July 29 and July 30 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commission Chairman Robert Spottswood said it would be difficult to approve a blanket cancellation without support from all of the Florida Keys communities.

“This was a difficult ask, and unless there was consensus down there, (it would) probably be impossible to even consider,” Spottswood said.

Spottswood said he intends to address the boat ramp issue with Monroe County officials.

“That’s just going to push folks to other ramps and create further congestion,” Spottswood said.