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Thread: Lobster Casita's Legal!? Maybe....

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    Default Lobster Casita's Legal!? Maybe....

    FWC looks at legalizing lobster casitas

    If you take the time to read this story please post a reply to this thread.

    I'd like to hear from fellow divers, (positive or negitive) who actually stick their heads under the water and really know what is going on in our Oceans.

    Thank You for your time.

    Rick Gage
    Something NEW is coming soon...

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    Casitas -- manmade structures put on the sea floor to attract lobster -- may not be the environmental nightmare some feared, a new state study says.

    "Lobster movement patterns do not appear to be affected by the presence of casitas," says a summary of the report, authored by John Hunt of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

    However, there are an awful lot of the illegally placed casitas in Lower Keys waters, the report notes, and they do significantly change early-season catches by commercial fishers.

    Hunt, a leading state lobster expert who heads the FWRI's Marathon office, will outline findings of the two-year study to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at the board's Wednesday meeting in Key Largo.

    At the urging of commercial lobster divers in late 2006, the FWC asked its research agency to see if casitas could become legal gear as part of the regular fishery. State scientists worked with members of the Ecologically Concerned Commercial Divers of the Lower Keys group to gather information for the new report.

    Taken from the Spanish for "little house," casitas are used to attract and aggregate lobster so divers can harvest them quickly and easily.

    "The major impact of casitas on the lobster fishery is they increase the rate of lobster removal during the first month of the fishing season and therefore shift landings from trappers to divers," the report authors found.

    Based on sample surveys, scientists estimate the study area -- 233 square miles in Gulf of Mexico waters north of the Lower Keys, generally 25 to 35 feet deep -- holds from 1,000 to 1,500 illegally placed casitas. Trap fishermen contend that large numbers of the artificial habitats might disrupt the lobsters' natural westward-moving migration through the Keys.

    For the study, scientists outfitted a group of lobsters with small underwater transmitters tracked by sub-sea listening stations. The initial results suggest lobster did not halt their movement to take up permanent residence at a casita.

    The study also concludes that casitas tend to remain relatively stationary, causing only minor changes to the hard bottom of the surrounding area. Small reef fish, primarily juvenile grunts, congregate around casitas in large numbers.

    FWC staff will ask its board members: "Should staff begin a proposal for the use of casitas as a managed fishing gear in the commercial spiny lobster fishery?" If the agency seeks to further investigate legalizing casitas, the process could take years, staff cautioned.

    A half-dozen state and federal agencies, including the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, have some jurisdiction over the sea bottom around the Keys, the report notes.

    Issues that would be raised include how many casitas could be placed, how they would be built and who would be licensed to take lobster from them.

    A copy of the FWRI presentation on lobster casitas is available at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The FWC board begins meetings at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the Key Largo Grande Resort, mile marker 97 bayside.
    Something NEW is coming soon...

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    It seems to me that if someone places a casita in public waters, then anyone recreationally or commercially licensed to catch lobster should be allowed to harvest from it.
    Last edited by kitefisherman; 11-14-2011 at 09:48 AM.
    Don't tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don't tell them where they know the fish.
    Mark Twain

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    If they are tagged like a lobster or stone crab trap, I think the same laws for trap molesting should apply.

    We will have to see how this plays out.

    It is a start.
    Something NEW is coming soon...

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    i think a casita is like a mini artificial reef. It will enhance the environment, not just for lobsters but other species as well. If they are in public waters there is no way to keep them exclusive.

    On the flip side, if the casitas are not allowed, does that mean all the other man made stuff in the water (towers, wrecks, debris etc) need to be removed? That would be impossible.

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    The biggest issue about the Casita's was the fact that the trappers thought they were "Holding" lobsters and stopping them from moving.

    This report and the study it was drafted off of proves that the lobster keep moving and DO NOT hold up on these casita's.

    It's a major win for the divers who only want to be treated farely in this industry.

    Thank you to everyone for their replies!
    Something NEW is coming soon...

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    Has anybody considered the fact that the more habitat provided changes the mortality rate of the species?
    Hello, common sense trumps science.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Powerhead View Post
    The biggest issue about the Casita's was the fact that the trappers thought they were "Holding" lobsters and stopping them from moving.

    This report and the study it was drafted off of proves that the lobster keep moving and DO NOT hold up on these casita's.

    It's a major win for the divers who only want to be treated farely in this industry.

    Thank you to everyone for their replies!
    From my experience the bugs walk away from those things just like they would from a coral head or ledge. We stumbled across a few while we were looking for the "bathtubs" in about 25ft of water straight out of kemp channel and off sawyer key. As we dragged around we ended up finding 4 in the area and only 2 were jam packed. We slept there and started diving in the morning (long time ago and the laws were different ) anyway the one that was loaded with 50+ bugs had like 5 and we were like wtf? Well they all walked that night to the one that barely had any. Theres nothing keeping them there except the structure which is just like any other. The guys who made them (I assume) came and were pretty pissed but just kept moving to there other ones. We shot muttons, hogs, mangos and grouper off these as they were fishy as hell and the only structures around the flat sand bottom.

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    They are unlikely to ever be legal as it is against the law to dump most of the materials used into the water within X miles of shore.
    That being said, the claims of the trappers that they were changing the migratory patterns of the lobster is/was positively ridiculous. It is obvious to anyone that the real story here is competition. The divers started bringing in a whole lot of lobster and the trappers, who have incredible influence and control over the FWC commissioners, (at least when the previous commissioner who lived in The Keys was there) didnt like it.
    They used thier incredible infuence with the FWC to get casita harvesting made into a severe crime, when it really isnt that big a deal (IMO).
    The FWC devoted hundreds of thousand of dollars and resources to trying to catch a few of these divers, and continue to do so. All to pretty much make the trappers happy, while they continue to bomb the reef with 500,000 wrecking balls weighing 45 pounds each, every day. It is disturbing to know that theres a few licensed commercial divers we know looking at extended prison time for catching the same amount of lobster the commercial trappers bring in every day. Its OK for me but not OK for you. Kinda like the idea of recreational lobster trapping. OK for us, not for you.
    The trappers even managed to get the trap reduction program halted, which was a great plan. The FWC determined that the lobster catch peaked and leveled off years ago when just 300,000 traps were permitted. Now there are 500,000 and they catch the same amount of bugs they did with 300,000. 200,000 pieces of bottom wrecking trash, fouling props and getting strung all over the reef during storms. The reduction program reduced ALL trappers by 10% a year. This kept them even against each other and the catch nearly the same, while reducing damaging gear and its impact on the environment. IMO it was a win-win. Then they asked the FWC to eliminate it and they did. Just like that. I was at that meeting in Marathon and was stunned. Then again, to the trappers credit, they ALL show up and stand united when an issue concerning thier industry is discussed. I bet there were 100 trappers there. Recreational fishermen may want to take a little notice of that IMO.
    Thats my opinion anyway
    Last edited by Ed Walker; 11-14-2011 at 09:00 PM.

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    Good Stuff Ed and a big thanks to everyone for taking the time to write a reply or even reading this.

    I'm sure this thread and the one posted on SB will be looked over by the Powers That Be.

    Ed, you said the materials being used on Casita's isn't allowed to be dumped so close to shore?

    Think about what a lobster or stone crab trap is made of?

    Concrete, wood, steel staples, plastic funnels, plastic rope & styrofoam bouys.

    If I'm not mistaken it is illegal to dump plastic anywhere in any Ocean at any time. Period! Yet, I have never seen a single roll-off dumpster full of old traps a any trap yard. I work next to the dump and I don't see any trappers dropping off their old traps. Where do all the old traps go??

    I'm sure they can't produce a dump ticket either.

    A casita would be made of Concrete and pinned to the bottom with rebar.
    Something NEW is coming soon...

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    Another issue that I see will cause a valid argument against this will be the pull of bugs off of multiple small pieces of natural bottom to a place where one or multiple people (who have the coordinates) can now harvest their limit or more. That is my argument with artificial reefs, take fish where few or no one knows where they are and concentrate them on public coordinates. I would think that the casita #'s would not have to be made public but if they last 5-10 years I can guarantee more than a few people will know about alot of them. Seems to me they are going to have a hard time regulating and policing just thinking about the logistics of it all. Hopefully it comes through for you guys.
    Still searching for that extra fish my neighbor always ask about

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