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Supply is plentiful and demand is high, according to commercial fishing industry index

TALLAHASSEE -- Early indicators are pointing to a good spiny lobster season, say Florida's commercial fishermen who began harvesting the prized seafood delicacy earlier this month.

Florida's commercial spiny lobster season opened August 6 and runs through March 31.  Spiny lobster is one of Florida's top commercial seafood products in dockside value.  Ranking third behind shrimp and stone crab claws, Florida's spiny lobster harvest was $13.2 million last season.  The bulk of the harvest comes from Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Spiny lobsters are abundant in supply and demand is strong, according to several of the state's largest lobster producers who provided data to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said the optimistic outlook for the spiny lobster season was welcome news for the state's seafood industry, which experienced sales declines due to extensive news coverage of the Gulf oil spill during the spring and summer.

"The opening of Florida's commercial spiny lobster harvest is always a much anticipated event, and this year's is especially meaningful," Bronson said.  "I hope that consumers will pay a visit to their local seafood market or restaurant and enjoy this Florida favorite that is now being harvested from the pristine waters off Florida's southern peninsula."

The spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) is a crustacean related to crabs, shrimp, crayfish and the Spanish lobster.  In Florida, the spiny lobster is caught off the Keys and around the southern tip of the state from waters of the Atlantic Ocean near the Florida Reef Tract.

The spiny lobster is characterized by numerous spines on the body, two large, hooked horns over the eyes, a pair of long jointed antennae and five pairs of walking legs.  It has mottled coloring of yellow, brown, orange and blue markings over the body and tail.  The tail is segmented and can be rapidly curled under the body to propel the lobster backward.

Spiny lobsters are harvested using special traps at depths of 6 to 300 feet and are usually landed live.  They are marketed as whole lobster, lobster tails, split tails and lobster meat.  These products are available fresh or frozen, raw or cooked.  The term "green" is used to refer to raw lobster.

More information about spiny lobster and downloadable illustration:

Florida lobster recipes and downloadable photos:

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Florida Lobster Quiche:

Creamy Lobster Medallions with Wild Rice:

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Florida Spiny Lobster and Wild Shrimp Mango Ceviche:

Florida Lobster Roll:

Sunshine Lobster Salad Bowl:

Lobster Divine:

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