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Happy Tails To You
The Coast Guard made their presence known this past lobster mini-season

Posted Thursday, August 1, 2013

Happy Tails To You
A crew member with Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, Fla., prepares to board a recreational vessel to inspect lobster during lobster mini season July 25, 2013. Law enforcement inspects the lobster to ensure specific guidelines were followed. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Barney. Below: A cluster of fished lobster runs through an inspection during lobster mini season July 25, 2013. Twelve lobster was the daily limit per person during the season. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Barney.

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The chef turns the gas on to begin a steady boil in the large stew pot. Diced and sliced vegetables sit on the chopping block awaiting their moment to take a dip. He meticulously arranges plates on the dining room table as his friends wait with anticipation in another room.

The chef glides across the kitchen floor gracefully as he begins to assemble the mouth-watering masterpiece. He eases the vegetables in the boiling water to begin their soak and adds a pinch of salt. As the vegetables toss and turn inside the water, the chef reaches inside the refrigerator for the key ingredient. The whole focus of his masterpiece revolves around the flavor that sits inside the tail of the spiny lobster.

As the chef reaches inside the refrigerator he suddenly awakens from his dream. In disappointment, he wipes the cold sweat from his head and remembers that there will be no feast for him. His lobsters were confiscated because he didn't play by the rules during lobster mini season.

Coast Guardsmen patrol Florida’s waters to ensure that people safely and fairly adhere to the guidelines for the lobster mini season.

The two-day lobster mini season began early morning of July 24 and ended at midnight of July 25, 2013. It isn’t a long fishing season; however, for some it’s enough time to catch up to 12 lobsters allowed per person.

When recreational or professional boaters are out at sea, Coast Guardsmen are not far behind to keep a watchful eye. Maritime laws and safety are a top priority for Coast Guardsmen as they get underway to make sure things run smoothly or to respond when they don’t.

“First thing I look for is unsafe boating,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Ricardo L. Regalado, a boatswains mate with Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, Fla.

Taking the proper steps to ensure the trip out to sea is safe; one should never overlook the importance of including the right equipment for your adventure.

Taking the proper boating safety equipment is important said Regalado. Life jackets, flares, whistles, strobe lights and Electronic Positioning Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB) are vital tools that often lead to saving the lives of distressed boaters.

A one-time purchase of this equipment can make the difference in life and death.

On July 8, 2013, the crew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, stationed at Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., rescued three fishermen from their disabled vessel 16 miles east of Crooked Islands, Bahamas, after an EPIRB onboard activated alerting Coast Guard watchstanders of their distress.

“Because they had an EPIRB, their general position was transmitted directly to the district command center and then passed to us,” said Lt. Michael Feltovic, a pilot at Air Station Clearwater.

With safety in the bag, the second morsel on the menu to land on the plate is following the rules and regulations relating to lobster mini season.

Specific regulations for the season not only protect the lobsters from being overfished, they also provide all who pursue them a fair chance for the spiny crustacean.

Although people are allowed up to 12 spiny lobsters each in Florida, other areas that reside within the state have restrictions.

Harvesting lobster in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park and in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State park is prohibited. In Monroe County and in the Biscayne National park, fishermen are allowed up to six of the spiny lobsters a piece.

These areas are patrolled by Coast Guardsmen and other law enforcement agencies including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The cooperation between federal and local law enforcement ensures that all laws and regulations are enforced.

The size of the catch is another contributing factor that will determine whether a fisherman gets to keep his catch. Anything smaller than three inches is illegal, said Regalado.

These regulations are not geared towards crippling fishermen. Instead, they are more aligned with protecting life that enriches the marine environment.

Coast Guardsmen encourage boaters, recreational or professional, to partake in the short fishing season. It’s not every day you can obtain your fair share of lobster fresh out of the water. Succulent lobster tails can be the centerpiece of any great meal. However, the flavor of this sea creature will be missed if the catch is in bad taste.

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