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So Much For The Florida Lobster Industry


    Commercial Fisherman Jim Higgins worries that by the time authorities figure out whether the Gulf of Mexico oil slick is truly an environmental disaster, Florida's lobster industry will be sunk.


I read your article with great interest and concern this morning. Under the " Calculating Currents " heading you stated it was too soon to measure the extent of the environmental damage. I'm a commercial lobsterman. I can tell you that we are now going into the part of the year where the spawning of spiny lobsters, Panulirus argus, is at its greatest, April through July.   
     At this time, after mating , females release their eggs into the currents. They in turn become phyllosome larvae, eggs, that are at the mercy of currents and wind for the next 9 months to a year before they go through a  metamorphosis and swim to a suitable substrate to live.    These substrates are the grassbeds of the Florida Keys. The majority of these larvae float in the Gulf of Mexico for a 9 month to a year-long period. You can imagine what will probably happen if they come into contact with this oil sheen. It's ironic that at one time lobsterman use to oil soaked leather to attract lobsters into their traps.

      Spiny lobsters are the largest fishery in the state of Florida. Numbers have already been largely diminished , in my opinion, to a herpes type virus. I think in the future your going to see that this spill will have had a catastrophic effect on this fishery.

     I agree that it is too soon to know what environmental damages have and will occur but unfortunately by the time they do figure it out it may be of little help.

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