Question: I’m new to lobster diving and have a couple of questions. We are planning an overnight trip to Catalina and are planning on diving one night and then an early morning dive the next day.
Are we allowed to keep our catch in an underwater live fish box to keep our catch alive? Would we also be allowed to share the underwater live fish box with other divers in our group? (Joseph)
Answer: California’s spiny lobster sport fishery will kick off at 6 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 29, and continue through March 20, 2019. The use of live wells or bait tanks for the purposes of preserving your catch on a vessel is not prohibited.
Commingling the catch of lobsters is allowed. The daily bag limit for lobster is seven per person and an individual may not possess more than seven at any time except when a valid declaration for a multi-day trip has been obtained.
The minimum size is 3 1/4 inches measured in a straight line on the mid-line of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell.
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 undersize 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.
When taking lobsters, all hoop netters and divers must have a sport fishing license (except those under age 16 or anyone hoop netting from a public pier), lobster report card and measuring device (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05(c)).
Prior to beginning fishing activity, the cardholder must record the month, day, location and gear code on the first available line on the report card.
When the cardholder moves to another location code, or finishes fishing for the day, he/she must immediately record on the card the number of lobster kept from that location (as per CCR Title 14, section 29.90).
Additional sport lobster regulations and general fishing information can be found in the California Spiny Lobster Fishing brochure.
Also, be aware of the Marine Protected Area boundaries and restrictions at Catalina Island and other locations in southern California.
Why can’t I hunt squirrels in Southern California?
Q: I am a new hunter and I am wondering why squirrel hunting is not allowed in Los Angeles and other counties. Is this a political thing?
I find it hard to believe there is a declining population of squirrels, and I can’t think of any reason why hunting them would not be allowed. I‘d like to go out for some, but it seems ridiculous that I might have to drive four hours for squirrels. (Connor W.)
A: In about two-thirds of California (including all of the northern counties and the Central Valley), it is legal to hunt tree squirrels.
The southern counties (including a sliver of Kern County, as well as all of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego and Imperial counties) and the eastern counties (Mono and Inyo) are closed to squirrel hunting.
You can find a map at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=109005&inline.
We are often asked why there’s no hunting in areas where it seems squirrels are plentiful.
In California’s southern counties, the squirrels you’re seeing are very likely Eastern fox squirrels, which do very well in urban, highly populated areas where hunting cannot be used as a management tool. These non-native squirrels have displaced the native Western grays that once inhabited the area.
Western grays prefer forested habitat, which is limited in the closed zone and fragmented further by development, leaving remaining populations with limited habitat connectivity.
This map https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=161159&inline shows the distribution of suitable habitat for the Western gray squirrel, which is consistent with the parts of the state where tree squirrel hunting is legal.
Based on these concerns about Western gray squirrel populations, the California Fish and Game Commission opted to restrict all tree squirrel hunting in the southernmost counties.
If hunting were allowed, the native squirrels would be disproportionately impacted, so the restrictions are in place to help protect them.
Dungeness season opener
Q: Could you confirm when the Dungeness season starts for 2018? (Anna)
A: The statewide recreational season is scheduled to start the first Saturday of November, which this year would fall on Nov. 3.
We do not yet have any information on domoic acid levels in Dungeness crab. That information will be released by the California Department of Public Health in October.
Health advisories and closure information can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories.