a man standing at a podium in front of a crowd of people

Floridians will have one extra day of “bug-hunting” in July before tourists and commercial fishermen have their shot, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced at a Wednesday press conference at Dockside Boot Key Harbor in Marathon.

Sunday, July 14 will mark a one-day residents-only expansion of the traditional lobster sport season, set for July 24 and 25 in 2024. The regular season begins August 6 and runs through March 31 each year.

“I hope everybody is able to do that, and I hope they have fun with it,” DeSantis told a crowd of Keys leaders and dignitaries.

“This is an excellent opportunity for residents here in Florida and for locals here in the Florida Keys to enjoy their time with our resources, making those memories that will last lifetimes and generations,” said FWC executive director Roger Young.

In the 30-minute press conference focusing primarily on funding for coral and artificial reefs along with water quality issues, DeSantis also announced that recreational lobster hunters can up their bag limits during the sport season by two lobsters per person per day through successful completion of FWC’s annual Lionfish Challenge — up from the one-per-day boost in prior years of the program. 

Targeted at removing the invasive species from Florida waters, the annual program challenges divers to harvest a minimum of 25 destructive lion fish. Upon submitting removed tails from the lionfish as proof of harvest, challenge participants are presented with a challenge coin that permits the additional lobster harvest.

To view the full press conference, visit https://www.facebook.com/share/v/RJoUpcLbvikGgrJa/?mibextid=WC7FNe.

The Keys Weekly will update this developing story.

Alex Rickert
Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.