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2017 AOTY/DOTY Entry

Topic: Why the Late Start Time for the Lobster Opener?  (Read 89 times)

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Hojoman

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September 28, 2017

Question: I’m going lobster diving with some friends on opening day this Saturday. I heard there was a change to the time we can get into the water? What is going on? (Daniel, San Diego)

Answer: The California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.90, states that the open season for spiny lobsters runs “… from 6 a.m. on the Saturday preceding the first Wednesday in October through the first Wednesday after the 15th of March.”

You are right – that is a change in the start time. The California Fish and Game Commission amended the regulations to start lobster season at 6 a.m. on opening day, instead of the previously opening time of just after midnight. Wildlife officers have frequently responded to lobster diving and boating related accidents over the years, which have unfortunately included fatalities. Incidents include divers in distress and subsequent rescues, divers almost being run over by boat-based lobster fishermen, boat-based fishermen rescuing distressed divers and boaters hitting submerged objects in the dark. There have also been many, many incidents of both inexperienced and experienced divers losing gear. The Commissioners amended the start time to reduce the frequency of accidents and possibly save lives, with no significant reduction in lobster fishing quality.

The new 6 a.m. season start time is only for the opening day, and will spread the initial recreational fishing effort across an entire day and night as opposed to bottlenecking the effort right at midnight. As in previous lobster openers, there is absolutely no take or attempt to take of lobsters allowed prior to the start time. This includes baiting your hoop net and placing it into the water before 6 a.m. We expect a safer, more orderly fishery opener for both divers and boat-based fishermen, as well as improved enforceability due to better visibility during the early morning opener. We wish you a safe and enjoyable dive – and hopefully a fresh lobster dinner at the end of it all.


 

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