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Sunday, March 21st - SCUBA off Monterey


In other Ocean News

From our friends at the DFG, here's a few about Lobster Season:

Question: If I am spear fishing during the day and I see a lobster, can I pick it up or will DFG think I'm using my spear gun when I'm really not? (Robert C.)

Answer: Lobsters may only be taken by hand or in baited hoop nets and it is illegal to use or possess any hooked devices while diving or attempting to dive for crustaceans. Given this, if your spear has floppers on the tip when folded out, it is a hooked device and is illegal. Though you may intend to use your spear only for spearing fish and not as a tool to help persuade a shy lobster to come out of the safety of its cozy cave or crevice, you should do your spear fishing and lobster diving on separate dives. When you do dive for lobsters, don't forget to carry a measuring gauge, too.

Question: While hoop netting lobsters in the past, I have used a piece of old panty hose to keep the bait together. It’s worked well but recently I have been told this is illegal to do because a lobster may get entangled on the hose. This has never happened in the times that I have hoop netted. I’m trying to be legal at all times. Am I breaking the law by using this method? (Doug F.)

Answer: Hoop nets are legal to use to take lobster but traps are not. If hoop nets are modified in any manner that causes the lobster to become entangled or trapped, then the device ceases to be a hoop net and becomes a trap. The fabric used to make panty hose is known to be an effective trap for lobsters and is not recommended for use on any part of a hoop net when it is used to take lobster. Hoop nets may contain a bait container but may in no way act to entangle or impede the movement of lobster while it tries to leave the net. If it does, then the device would be illegal, no matter what material is used to construct the bait container

Lobster Poaching of Shorts on the Rise in Orange County:

Lobster poachers are feeling the pinch in Orange County..In the last two months wardens have investigated three cases involving the possession of significant lobster overlimits, with the majority of the lobsters undersize. In one case the suspect was convicted and is serving jail time for commercial sale of sport caught lobster. The two other cases are pending.

Poachers who profit from the sale of California's fisheries put the resource at risk, said Lt. Dan Sforza of DFG's Law Enforcement Division. Local lobster populations will suffer severe declines if poaching activity is left unchecked.

A "short" lobster that is smaller than the minimum size limit of 3¼ inches carapace length. Take of short lobsters depletes the stock. The following exemplify cases made every day by California game wardens:

On Feb. 2, David Frederick of Norwalk was sentenced to 33 days in jail for selling 22 undersize lobsters for $85. Witnesses at the scene stated he had sold lobsters there many times before. Frederick is currently serving jail time.

On Jan. 29, Sione Palalaika Akau of Bloomington was found in possession of 39 lobsters, 38 of which were undersize, intended for commercial sale. He also possessed undersize kelp bass and California sheephead. Akau was cited for eight violations.

On Dec. 13, a father and son duo from Dana Point were found in possession of 22 lobsters, 21 of which were undersize. They were cited for four violations each. Fortunately, the lobsters were healthy enough to be returned to the ocean.

Regulations regarding sport take of lobster are designed to allow lobster the chance to reproduce at least once during their lives before they can be taken by an angler. Possession of three times the daily limit of seven lobsters is prima facie evidence they are possessed for the purpose of commercial sale. In each of the above cases, the suspects were extremely uncooperative with investigating wardens and made every effort to keep the undersize lobsters hidden. Failure to show fish or game to a game warden on demand is a misdemeanor violation of the Fish and Game Code.


Question: Can someone be cited for the inadvertent stomach contents of their catch? As an example, a typical cabezon belly might contain a couple of 3-inch abalone, crabs and/or octopus. Is it a violation to have the abalone (and crabs and octopus if it is in a no-invertebrate take zone) in possession? Another example would be a ling with a big rockfish in his belly. Could the stomach contents place you over the 10 fish RCG complex (rockfish, cabezon and greenlings) possession limit? (Craig G.)

Answer: This situation would be the same as if you caught an undersize or prohibited species unintentionally while fishing. According to Lt. Dennis McKiver, you are required to discard or return to the sea any prohibited species as soon as you discover you have caught a prohibited species. Although you would not be required to remove and inspect the stomach contents of all fish you catch to make sure the fish did not contain a prohibited species, if the fish regurgitates a prohibited species you would not be allowed to retain possession of that prohibited species. You must return it to the ocean even if it is dead.

In your last example, it would be the same as if you had 10 rockfish in possession and continued to fish for lingcod. If you caught a rockfish, you would have an over-limit and would be required to return it to the ocean. Lets say you were legally fishing for lingcod with two hooks and you caught a lingcod on one hook and a rockfish on the other. You would be required to return the rockfish if you already had a limit in possession. If you are fishing for rockfish and lingcod and you catch a lingcod that contains a rockfish and then you choose to keep the rockfish from the lings stomach in your possession, that rockfish becomes part of your rockfish bag limit.

A similar problem occurs when anglers catch surf perch, a species that carries live young. During their spawning season a caught fish may discharge their young as they die or when handled. The angler may then be in possession of more than the 10 surf perch limit of one species, but wardens clearly understand this biological phenomenon.

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