Mexicans apply the name langosta to lobster species—also known as spiny lobsters—of the Palinuridae family, the only species the nation harvests commercially.
Lobsters’ high retail price and easy availability in comparison to other marine fisheries have made them an important Mexican resource; lobster trapping is the economic base of many Mexican fishing communities and represents the second most lucrative fishing harvest in terms of foreign currency generation.
Genus Panulirus spiny lobsters are found in Mexico’s tropical and subtropical coastal waters. Panulirus interruptus (California spiny or red lobster) are found in the Pacific, in Baja California; P. inflatus (blue lobsters, langosta cabezona or langosta de roca) inhabit the waters surrounding Baja California and the South Pacific in Oaxaca); P. gracilis (green lobster or langosta de playa), ranges from the North Pacific (Sinaloa) to the South Pacific (Chiapas). P. Penicillatus (Socorro Island lobster) comes from the Central Pacific, specifically Colima.
Panulirus argus—spiny or Florida lobster—are found in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean (Quintana Roo and the Yucatán).
Lobster fisheries are found along both Mexican coasts, where the animals enter shallow waters; fishing occurs between the October and March, March to May and August to October, depending on the species harvested.
Spiny lobsters are omnivorous. They live in rocky areas at depths of up to 30 meters. Small and medium size specimens typically live in groups; the larger species live alone.
Dimensions range from 30 to 50 centimeters long (not including antennas). Individuals have a sturdy, spiky shell; their heads also feature a spiky protuberance they use to defend themselves, and two pair of long antennae to the side, which can even exceed their body length and have sturdy spines at their bases. Lobster meat is toothsome, white, delicate and has a distinctive flavor.
Lobsters are rich in iodine, and contain high levels of zinc.
Noteworthy species in terms of consumption and economic importance are the red or California lobster (Panulirus interruptus), as well as so-called spiny or Florida lobster (Panulirus argus).
The first has a shell that ranges in color from reddish brown, or yellow-orange to dark red and is known as the langosta roja caballón or burro. The best specimens are captured from October to March.
Spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) fishing has been recertified in Baja California subsequent to an independent evaluation for sustainability and proper oversight in conformity to Marine Stewardship Council standards. Baja fisheries were certified as sustainable from 2004 until 2009, and once again, Baja harvests are eligible for marketing with the MSC’s blue eco-label. The original certification extended from Isla de Cedros in Baja California to Punta Abreojos in Baja California Sur, and now includes Isla Guadalupe, located 250 km off the west coast of Baja California.
The spiny lobster has a shell that ranges in color from reddish brown, to purple, greenish or bluish. The best specimens are obtained from July to March and from August to September.
Small-scale lobster fisheries, i.e., an artisanal activity inside the Sian Ka'an and Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserves, and in the Mexican portion of the Mesoamerican reef, can now bear the MSC’s blue eco-label. This spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) fishery was certified following an independent assessment conducted by MRAG Americas using the MSC standard for sustainable and properly-managed fisheries.
Lobsters are available live and whole, as are their tails, and can be marketed fresh, frozen or cooked.
Whole and fresh, lobsters are roasted or fried; boiled, they become an ingredient in rice, pasta or salads, can be bases for soups, or can be marinated before cooking.


Puerto Nuevo lobster tacos