Bahamas Lobster Season: August 1-March 31
The opening of The Bahamas Lobster Season opening is just around the corner and marina and hotel reservations are nearing full capacity throughout The Bahamas.
Here is a listing of rules and regulations for harvesting in The Bahamas and for returning to U.S. with your catch. Be sure to double check prior to your trip to be sure there were no changes since the date of this publication.
Bahamas Lobster Harvesting Regulations
- Bag limit: 10 per person (You may never have more than this limit on your boat, regardless of how many days you are in The Bahamas.)
- Size: 3 3⁄8 inches carapace length or six inches tail length. (Be careful—the U.S. carapace minimum is 3 inches, so pay attention on how you measure your lobster.)
- No scuba gear can be used while taking lobster.
- Spearing legal lobster is legal in The Bahamas. You may only us a pole spear or Hawaiian sling. Special note: There is no spearing within 1 mile of shore around New Providence and the south side of Freeport, Grand Bahama, or within 200 yards of coast of the Out Islands.
- Boaters must possess a valid Bahamas cruising permit, obtained at a designated Port of Entry.
- Egg-bearing lobsters are protected.
- Any lobsters harvested in The Bahamas during their open season cannot be transported by private vessel into state waters during Florida’s closed season.
- Lobsters brought back to Florida must be in whole condition (not tailed). If you are transporting by air to any US destination contact the US Fish and Wildlife Service for regulations regarding transport of lobsters, fish and conch. Special documentation may also be required.
Some recommendations before heading out for the hunt:
- Make sure all of your reservations are in order. Don’t get turned away by full marinas and even if they can squeeze you in a spot somewhere you will most likely not be able to get a room. Plan appropriately before leaving.
- Have your valid passport. You will not be admitted if it is expired or close to expiring. The government has strict admission laws regarding entry and is not at the discretion of the agents.
- Have plenty of cash. ATM’s are not available at all locations and serviceability can be limited depending on the location.
- Cash for Cruising Permit…we cannot confirm if any locations accept credit or debit cards for government transactions.
- Bring lots of ice and be sure to reserve ice for deliveries if possible at the marina.
- Know your lobster count at all times. Don’t suffer the penalty of having an illegal catch and know that lobster on your grill counts as the daily catch so eat and then finish the day’s hunt.
- File a float plan at home before leaving and let them know if plans change. If you’re lost or broken down someone needs to know where to start looking.
Fishing Regulation Details for The Bahamas
- Each vessel shall use not more than six (6) rods or reels unless the operator is in possession of a permit authorizing the use of more rods or reels;
- Vessels with a valid fishing permit are allowed 20 pounds of scale fish, 10 conch, and ten crawfish (in season) per person, at any time.
- All other migratory fish shall be returned to the sea alive unless it is to be used immediately.
- No grouper or rockfish weighing less than three pounds may be taken.
- No spearfishing within 200 yards of any island in the Bahamas.
- It is illegal to use any type of underwater air supply for spear fishing or collecting of any marine life. This includes scuba gear as well as air compressors.
- Spearfishing is restricted to free divers only and only with the use of a Hawaiian sling.
- It is illegal to take coral, tropical fish or sea fans.
- It is illegal for a non-Bahamian to use any type of fishing net, except a cast net.
- It is illegal for a non-Bahamian to use fish traps or to sell marine products of any type.
- Nothing may be taken from Bahamas National Underwater Parks.
- A person shall fish by the traditional method of angling with a hook or lure attached to a line held in the hand or attached to a pole, rod or reel;
- A person, unless otherwise authorized by the respective permit, shall not use a spear, a fish trap, or a net other than a landing net;
- Any migratory fishery resource that is caught shall not in total consist of more than six (6) Kingfish, Dolphin, Tuna or Wahoo per vessel and any resource not intended to be used shall not be injured unnecessarily but be returned to the sea alive;
- No vessel shall have on board any conch or turtle or more than twenty pounds of any demersal fishery resources (groupers, snappers, etc.) per vessel at any time and excluding not more than six crawfish per vessel.
- No vessel shall have on board any fish unless its head and tail is intact.
- The general public is advised that the Queen Conch (conch) is considered to be an endangered species throughout much of its range within the wider Caribbean area, including The Bahamas. The Government, in an effort to ensure the continued sustainability of local conch stocks, has decided to prohibit the harvesting of the species by foreign boaters.
For more information, contact:
Department of Marine Resources
Ministry of Agriculture & Marine Resources
P.O. Box N-3028
Nassau, The Bahamas
Bringing Spiny Lobster Into Florida
- Bahamian rules allow you to possess whole and wrung (tailed) lobster; however, when returning to Florida, lobster must be in whole condition (head and tail intact).
- Can only be transported into U.S. waters during the Florida recreational season (Aug. 6-March 31)
- Spiny lobster cannot be brought back into U.S. waters during the 2-day sport season (last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July) because, in the Bahamas, the season is closed during that time period.
- Lobster lawfully harvested by spear in The Bahamas can be returned to Florida.
- Check with your air carrier and Fish and Wildlife enforcement agency for the state you arrive with for Customs and Immigration for any restrictions or special rules that may apply.