SAN DIEGO — A fishery management plan (FMP) for California’s spiny lobster could be in place by summer 2016, meaning the state’s hopes to manage the crustacean species and promote sustainability could be realized after a four-year vetting process.
The Fish and Game Commission received an update on the Spiny Lobster FMP at its Dec. 9 meeting in San Diego and directed staff to publish intent to adopt the plan. A 45-day public review of the FMP will begin once the plan is published. Commissioners will review public comments at its second meeting of 2016 in Sacramento (Feb. 10-11).
The commission would likely move forward with the FMP as currently proposed if no changes are made to the plan after public review. The FMP would be delayed and sent back to the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) for review if major changes are suggested to the plan after public comment.
“California lobsters have long supported major commercial and recreational fisheries. The species plays a key role in maintaining the health of the Southern California kelp forest ecosystem,” the draft FMP stated. “To achieve responsive and effective management, this fishery must be adaptable and sustainable.”
DFW officials and the Fish and Game Commission have been working on the Spiny Lobster FMP since 2012. The plan recently endured a prolonged scientific peer review and earned a consensus of recommendations between the commission’s Marine Resources Committee and Lobster Advisory Committee.
Recreational takes of spiny lobster generally occurs between San Luis Obispo and the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego. California has managed the fishery for more than 100 years. The recreational spiny lobster season opens each year in late September or early October and runs through March of the following calendar year.
State officials estimate the recreational spiny lobster fishery contributes between $33 million and $40 million to the California economy annually.
More information of the Spiny Lobster FMP can be found on the commission’s website at bit.ly/1lJhxfr.