California Spiny Lobsters

The largest portion of the commercial and sport harvest is always taken during the first month of the season, October, which also is the highest month of trapping effort. The effort and catch drop off sharply in January through the middle of March (the season‘s end). San Diego County, being the most central to the spiny lobster‘s range, usually produces the highest landings, followed by Los Angeles/Orange, and Santa Barbara/Ventura counties.

Commercial and recreational lobster fishermen are restricted to a minimum size limit of 3 1/4 inches carapace length (CL). Historically, the season for both has run from early October to mid-March. Since 1992, the sport season has opened the weekend before the first Wednesday in October, the official commercial season opener. Commercial fish traps, including lobster traps, must have a destruct-device of a type approved by the Department of Fish and Game. This is to ensure that lost or abandoned traps do not continue to capture marine life indefinitely. Since the1976-1977 season, it has been required that lobster traps be fitted with rectangular escape ports (2 3/8 by 11 1/2 inches) to minimize the retention of undersized lobsters. This requirement has been credited with reversing the long downward trend in landings previous to that.

Recreational harvesters need a valid sport fishing license with an ocean enhancement stamp, and may use hoop nets or bare (gloved) hands when skin or scuba diving for lobster. No appliance, such as a fish spear or a short hooked pole, may be used to snag the animals from deep crevices or caves. The daily bag limit for sport fishing is seven lobsters, reduced from 10 in 1971.

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