Spiny lobster report cards to be available Aug. 15 for 2017-18 season

STATEWIDE — Report cards for the upcoming spiny lobster season will be available to the public beginning Aug. 15, California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife announced.

The end of summer is essentially Christmas in September for lobster divers and hoop netters, as open season for spiny bugs generally begins during the first few days of fall. Lobster divers and hoop netters can officially begin diving for or catching spiny bugs beginning Sept. 30.

California requires all lobster divers and hoop netters to obtain and maintain a report card for the entire season. Each report card must be returned back to state officials after the season, even if the diver or netter does not make any catches.

The fee for spiny lobster report cards, which are valid for the entire season, is $9.46. Anyone purchasing a report card and returning it to state officials after the deadline (or missing the deadline altogether) will be assessed a $21.60 return fee.

This year’s spiny lobster season begins Sept. 30 at 6 a.m. and runs through March 21, 2018. The 2018-19 spiny lobster season, for reference, runs from Sept. 29, 2018 to March 20, 2019. Report cards for the 2016-17 season were due April 30. Anyone who did not return last season’s report cards but will be purchasing one for 2017-18 will have to pay both the $9.46 and $21.60 fee.

Four new regulations are in effect for the 2017-18 season:

  • All hoop net buoys used south of Pt. Arguello in Santa Barbara County must be marked for identification and enforcement;
  • Divers in all ocean waters may only take lobster by hand. Spear-fishing equipment is permitted so long as it is lawful and not used to aid in the taking of lobster;
  • The season start time has been moved from 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m.;
  • State officials clarified measuring requirements to allow for the measurement of lobster aboard a boat. Hoop netters may measure spiny lobster aboard a vessel to determine whether it is undersized. All undersized catches must be returned into the water.

Divers are still required to measure their catches immediately, while still in water; divers are not allowed to remove undersized catches from the water.

Aug. 15 is also the last day of recreational Pacific halibut’s August season (unless the state’s mandated quota for the entire fishery is reached earlier); it is also the opener for the August-November recreational ocean salmon season (between Horse Mountain and Pt. Arena).

National Park Service photo

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