SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — The end of September means another spiny lobster season is upon us. Divers and hoop netters will be permitted back on (or in) the water for the 2018-19 spiny lobster season at 6 a.m. on Sept. 29.
A few new regulations were implemented as of last season (including the season start time, which is no longer overnight).
Anyone using hoop net buoys south of Santa Barbara County’s Point Arguello, for example, must be marked for identification and enforcement. The marking must identify the operator’s GO ID number. Shared hoop nets can be marked with multiple GO ID numbers.
Those who dive for spiny bugs can take their crustacean catches by hand only.
“Divers may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive. Divers may be in possession of spearfishing equipment so long as possession of such equipment is otherwise lawful and is not being used to aid in the take of crustaceans,” according to California Department of Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW).
DFW’s policy, per the state agency website, states: “Measuring requirements have been clarified in order to allow for measuring lobster aboard a boat. The change will allow hoop netters to bring spiny lobster aboard a vessel where they can be measured safely. All lobsters shall be measured immediately and any undersize lobster shall be released immediately into the water.
“Divers shall measure lobsters while in the water and shall not remove undersized lobsters from the water. Hoop netters may measure lobsters out of the water, but no undersize lobster may be placed in any type of receiver, kept on the person or retained in any person’s possession or under his or her direct control,” the policy continued.
Be sure to have your spiny lobster report card purchased before diving or dropping your hoop net into the water. Report cards can be purchased online at wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Online-Sales. All report cards must be returned to DFW staff by April 30, 2019, regardless of whether you caught any lobster. The report cards can be submitted online through the DFW website or my mailing a physical copy to: CDFW, Lobster Report Card, 3883 Ruffin Road, San Diego, California 92123.
More information about the new California Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan, which is in effect, is available at here. General information about lobster and lobster management is available at here.