Funny you should mention this. I was just getting ready to send mine out today.
Also, looks like they did some studies on conical nets verses flat nets. I bet we'll end up loosing the ability to use conicals before too long.
Check it out...
DFG Improves Recreational Spiny Lobster Fishery Monitoring and Outreach
by Travis Buck, Marine Biologist
Each year, a mysterious phenomenon appears in late September or early October along the coastline of southern California. Thousands of lights dot the nighttime waters with glowing colors, hovering on the surface and emitting ghostly hues in the depths.
Actually, the lights are not all that mysterious. They belong to the thousands of recreational hoopnetters and divers on the hunt for California spiny lobster during the season opener.
Although the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has gathered considerable information about the spiny lobster commercial fishery from landing receipts and logbooks, there is little information about the magnitude of recreational lobster catch and fishing effort.
In 2007, DFG hired additional staff to implement a number of new programs and studies that will monitor recreational lobster gear, catch, and fishing effort. The new information will help determine how many recreational fishermen pursue spiny lobster each season and how successful they are, both essential pieces of information for fishery management.
DFG biologists conducted a pre-season hoop net study in 2007 to compare the efficiency of two types of popular hoop nets and quantify their success rates. A creel survey, where fishermen are interviewed at their hoopnetting or diving locations, was also implemented during the 2007-2008 recreational lobster fishing season to determine the number of lobster fishermen in southern California. DFG samplers collected information about the total catch, catch locations, gear types and the success rates of the various gear types.
New for the 2008-2009 season, spiny lobster report cards were introduced to expand data collection efforts. DFG also redoubled efforts to provide information to the public about spiny lobster fishing regulations and life history with assistance from California Sea Grant.
Hoop Net Comparison Study
In August and September 2007, DFG marine biologists Doug Neilson and Travis Buck conducted a night-time hoop net study near the entrance of San Diego Bay to test the efficiency of two types of hoop nets commonly used in the recreational lobster fishery. Traditional hoop nets are basket-shaped, but lay flat on the bottom during deployment. The other net, more recently developed, maintains its rigid, conical shape during both deployment and recovery. A total of 96 nets (48 of each type) were deployed at Zuniga Jetty over seven nights. The study showed that the rigid hoop nets caught 57 percent more spiny lobster than the traditional hoop nets. A scientific paper that describes the hoop net study results is set for publication in California Fish and Game
, a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal.
The new net design increases fishing success by requiring less skill on the part of the user. The increased efficiency of the popular, new net type and easy access to spiny lobster, along with an increased interest in spiny lobster fishing and aggressive marketing of hoop nets, may foreshadow an increase in the recreational catch. However, without knowing the extent of the rigid net's use by fishermen and thus its full impact on the recreational take, and without a full scientific assessment of the spiny lobster stock, it is difficult to determine how the modified gear might affect the sustainability of the spiny lobster population and fishery. Future data from this ongoing study may help to determine the rigid hoop net's impact.
Spiny Lobster Creel Survey
The 2007-2008 spiny lobster season marked the first time the DFG has conducted a spiny lobster creel survey since 1992. Samplers worked in pairs sampling piers, launch ramps, and shore entry sites from Santa Barbara County south to the U.S.-Mexico border.
One of the creel survey's main goals was to quantify the impact of catch and effort. Samplers recorded primary access points for the fishery, and the amount of effort and catch at these points. Samplers also recorded actual fishing locations and gathered spiny lobster biological data such as weight, sex, and shell (carapace) length. A related goal of the survey was to estimate the relative contribution of each gear type to the effort expended to catch lobster, and the resultant catch.
Samplers visited 416 sites and interviewed nearly 2,900 recreational lobster fishermen. Sampling during the first two months of the season produced important information that will be used to manage the fishery, including where, when, and how fishermen pursue spiny lobster and the biological characteristics of the catch.
Private boats appear to be the most popular transportation method to reach good southern California spiny lobster fishing grounds. Despite the popularity of some piers, they do not appear to be the place to go for a successful night of lobster fishing, since they yielded the lowest catch-per-unit-of-effort (CPUE) of any fishing mode observed. Scuba divers had a relatively high CPUE; however, based on the fishermen encountered during the survey, hoop netters appear to catch more lobster overall by virtue of greatly outnumbering divers.
Fishermen using traditional hoop nets outnumbered fishermen using rigid hoop nets 3 to 1, with 74 percent of the hoop net catch coming from traditional hoop nets. The length of lobster fishing trips did not usually differ by the type of net used, except in San Diego County where the average trip for rigid net users was a bit longer than other net users. On average, hoop nets caught 82 percent of the total spiny lobster catch during the survey.
Despite the large number of fishermen interviewed, few had caught their daily bag limit of seven spiny lobsters. Of the 2,883 lobster fishermen interviewed, only 24 (0.8 percent) had caught their limit; 61 percent came home empty handed. "Short" or sub-legal sized lobster (under 3¼ in. carapace length) were encountered in all counties; in Orange County short lobsters comprised a surprising 28 percent of the county's total spiny lobster take. Lobster fishermen should take care to ensure they do not retain short lobster, as this could lead to big fines and harm the lobster breeding population. The median number of short lobster per county was 2.9 percent. San Diego County claimed the title for the most kept lobster, while the largest spiny lobsters came from Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Future Spiny Lobster Research
In the future, these studies and projects will incorporate additional survey data from daytime California Recreational Fisheries Survey spiny lobster sampling, and from the ongoing DFG hoop net study at Zuniga Jetty in San Diego County. The data will also be compared to recent phone surveys as well as the 1992 creel survey. DFG plans to use 2007-2008 commercial log book and commercial landings data along with the recreational data to begin fully assessing the health of the California spiny lobster resource.
Spiny Lobster Report Card – New for 2008
In 2007, the Fish and Game Commission approved the use of a spiny lobster report card to provide information on recreational catch. The report card is now required for all recreational lobster fishermen, and will help DFG to determine the number of fishermen, fishing effort, catch locations, and gear used in the recreational spiny lobster fishery.
New Spiny Lobster Publication and FAQ
A new DFG/Sea Grant brochure that contains information about California spiny lobster life history and the sport fishery is available at southern California DFG offices, on the DFG Web site (www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/pdfs/lobsterbrochure.pdf
) and at many tackle shops, dive shops, and sporting goods stores in southern California. The spiny lobster "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) section on the DFG Marine Region Web site has been updated with questions and answers about spiny lobster regulations. To read the FAQ, simply click on the "Frequently Asked Questions" link in the gray left-hand navigation bar on the Marine Region home page. The FAQ is located at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/faqindx.asp#spinylobster