Coast Guard to Hold Lobster Mini-Season Press Briefing

MIAMI – Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Park Service officials are scheduled to hold a press briefing Tuesday at 10 a.m. regarding diving and boating safety regulations for lobster mini-season, at Coast Guard Integrated Support Command Miami located at 100 MacArthur Causeway, Miami Beach, Fla. The press briefing will also address:

* area specific harvesting regulations and closures ie. Biscayne Bay-Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary (whose boundaries overlap the Park’s boundaries) is prohibited year-round.
* resource protection guidelines to follow during Florida’s annual Spiny Lobster Sport Season, also known as “lobster mini-season”.

The lobster mini-season, beginning 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 30th and ending 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 31st, brings with it a significant increase in the number of boaters and divers in Florida’s coastal waters. This increase in boating activity has led to numerous accidents over the years between boaters and divers failing to exercise proper safety.

The Coast Guard and its partners will be on high alert for reports of injured or missing divers and other search and rescue cases associated with the influx of boaters.

“Both the boaters and the divers must stay alert and be aware of each other and their surroundings during this busy season,” said FWC Major David Stermen.

A 20″ x 24″ dive flag is required to be displayed on all vessels used by divers and snorkelers. Boats must stay at least 300 feet from any boat displaying a dive flag unless at idle speed.

The Coast Guard encourages commercial and recreational divers to be properly certified through an accredited diving course and to utilize signaling devices and safety equipment as part of their gear. Scuba divers should consider carrying signaling devices to signal to the boat or other divers during a distress situation or when separated from the dive boat.

Here are some safety tips to remember before and during a dive:

  • Never dive by yourself. Ensure you have a dive plan and a diving “buddy.” There is safety in numbers.
  • File a float plan with a family member or friend. If you decide to deviate from your original intended plan, notify your emergency contact of the changes as soon as posible
  • Check your dive equipment carefully and check how the equipment functions correctly.
  • Mark the area in which you are diving with a dive flag and a light. This is a federally mandated law and is required when divers are in the water.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, hypothermia and dehydration, as well as procedures for emergency treatment.
  • Check the local weather conditions before your dive or begin the trip to your dive site.
  • Remember, taking all the basic safety precautions while diving will increase your chance of surviving a potential diving accident.
  • Boat operators need to be alert and aware of dive flags.
  • If you have not been SCUBA diving in the past year, please ensure you are physically capable of handeling the conditons of the ocean.

For rules and regulations on the 2008 mini-season, contact FWC or go to http://www.myfwc.com/. For Biscayne National Park specific regulations, go to http.//www.nps.gov/bisc, where you can download a copy of the park’s lobster mini season brochure (in English and Spanish).

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