The lobster mini season brings with it a significant increase in the number of boaters and divers in Florida’s coastal waters and this increase in boating activity can lead to accidents if boaters and divers forget to practice safety first.
The Boating Advisory Trailer – Public Awareness Kit (BAT-PAK) will continue its safety outreach tour throughout the Florida Keys during the last week of July.
Some safety tips to remember before and during a dive:
- Check your dive gear before your dive and monitor your air during your dive.
- Do practice dives before the season starts. Use the preseason time to refresh your skills and improve your fitness. Remember that an underwater hunt is more stressful than a recreational dive.
- Do not dive outside your physical capabilities.
- Ensure you have a dive plan and are diving with a buddy.
- File a float plan with a family member or a nearby marina. Stick to a time frame while diving and let someone know if it changes.
- Ensure you are wearing reflective material on your dive suit.
- Mark the area in which you are diving with a dive flag and a light.
- While piloting a boat, stay aware of your surroundings. Remember divers can get separated from their flags and boats.
- Remember, taking all the basic safety precautions will facilitate an increased chance of helping or finding a diver in the event Coast Guard assistance is needed.
Boats engaged in diving should show a rigid replica of the internationally recognized “Alpha Flag”. This is a blue and white flag with a swallow tail. Additionally, the traditionally used “Divers Down” flag should be flown from the boat or from a float over the divers. This red flag with a diagonal white stripe should be easily seen on the water.
Personnel from the Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other agencies will patrol the waters surrounding South Florida to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations.
Prohibitions: Harvest of lobster is prohibited in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park during the sport season. Harvest is also prohibited during both the two-day sport season and regular season in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, and no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.