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New Regulation Changes for Recreational Lobster Fishing

The California Fish and Game Commission (FGC), at its June 22, 2016 meeting in Bakersfield, adopted commercial and recreational lobster fishing regulations to support the implementation of the California Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan that was adopted by the FGC at its April 2016 meeting. The public comment period closed on June 22, 2016 with the adoption of the proposed regulations. A summary of the new recreational lobster fishing regulations can be found below, which include changes for sections 29.80 and 29.90 Title 14, California Code of Regulations. All other recreational lobster fishing regulations, unless listed below, remain unchanged and remain in effect:

Effective for the 2017-2018 Lobster Fishing Season

  • The start of the recreational lobster fishing season has been changed from 12:01 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. for safety purposes. Open season: From 6:00 a.m. on the Saturday preceding the first Wednesday in October through the first Wednesday after the 15th of March (§ 29.90 (a)).
  • Hoop net buoys south of Point Arguello (Santa Barbara County) must now be marked for identification and enforcement purposes. Hoop nets used south of Point Arguello shall be marked with a surface buoy. The surface buoy shall be legibly marked to identify the operator's GO ID number as stated on the operator's sport fishing license or lobster report card. Hoop nets deployed from persons on shore or manmade structures connected to the shore are not required to be marked with a surface buoy (§ 29.80 (b)(3)). Shared hoop nets can be marked with multiple GO ID numbers, or GO ID numbers can be switched out by using any sort of removable tag on or attached to the buoy, so long as the GO ID numbers are all legible. Hoop nets deployed from Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (party or charter boats) must be marked with the boat’s Fish & Game Vessel ID number, and hoop nets provided by licensed guides to clients must be marked with the guide’s license number.
  • Existing language on the possession of a hooked device while taking lobster has been changed to provide clarification for both recreational divers and enforcement. Diving for crustaceans: In all ocean waters, except as provided in Section 29.05, skin and SCUBA divers may take crustaceans by the use of the hands 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 (§ 29.80 (g)).
  • 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 (§ 29.90 (c)).

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California Spiny Lobster brochure - link opens in new window Read the link opens in new windowCalifornia Spiny Lobster brochure (PDF) for sport diving and hoop netting regulations, spiny lobster life history information, fishing tips, and more!

Return your lobster report cards by April 30 following the season closure to:

Our online harvest reporting system

If you do not have readily available access to internet, you may also submit the report card to:

Lobster Report Card
3883 Ruffin Rd.
San Diego, CA 92123