Can we team dive for lobsters?

Lobster diving is not a team sport (DFG photo courtesy of Derek Stein)

Question: I’ve got a question regarding situations when buddies are diving together for lobsters. Each diver has a license, bag and measuring device but one is experienced and the other is a rookie. The skilled diver gets his limit and finds out the other diver isn’t getting anything. The skilled diver then continues diving with the intention of helping out his buddy, but because they are separated, he puts the overlimit of bugs in his own bag, with the intention to transfer the extras to his buddy while still in the water. In other words, the bugs will be placed in another bag “during the hunt” for when they regroup. Is it legal for one diver to get a second limit of lobsters for his buddy who is having trouble getting his limit? (Jim C., Redondo Beach)

Answer: No. Each diver may only take and possess their own limit (currently seven lobsters), and may not take additional lobsters on any day after taking a limit. Diving is not a team sport in this sense. Once the diver takes game in excess of the legal daily bag limit and they are under his control, he is in possession of an overlimit.

Teaching a new diver to take bugs requires patience and sacrifice. It may take a while for a new diver to learn and get the hang of it, but other divers can’t help to fill his bag in the meantime. The same goes for all other species of fish and game, except for the few species and circumstances where “boat limits” apply (California Code of Regulations, section 27.60(c)).

Can I hunt with an air rifle and lead pellets in condor country?
Question: I would like to hunt for some critters within the condor area with my .22 cal air rifle and plan to use lead pellets. I have been told that air rifles are not considered firearms and therefore do not fall under the lead ban. Is it true? If not, which law/policy states this information? (Steve Z.)

Answer: Pellet rifles are not considered a firearm, so neither pellet rifles nor their projectiles would be included in the ban. For more questions on non-lead area regulations, please visit the  DFG Web site

Can I fillet fish caught in Mexican waters?
Question: What are the regulations governing the filleting of fish caught in Mexican waters, and where can I find those regulations? (Harold Y.)

Answer: As per Mexican law, fish caught under a Mexican sportfishing license may not be filleted aboard the vessel from which it was caught. According to Department of Fish and Game Lt. Eric Kord, this leaves you the options of traveling out 200 miles to international waters to fillet your fish, or returning to the United States to fillet your fish. Once back in the U.S., if your port of return is in California, then state law would apply to any filleted fish that is possessed on a vessel or brought ashore (CCR Title 14, section 27.65). Any filleted fish on your vessel must meet all size limits, be species authorized for filleting and retain any identification requirements (e.g., skin patch or all skin still attached).

If you choose to fillet your fish in Mexico illegally and transport the fillets back to California, that would be a violation of the federal Lacey Act, which is subject to much steeper fines and penalties (via a formal complaint from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries agent).

To look up the Mexican laws that apply, please visit Mexico’s National Aquaculture and Fishing Commission (CONAPESCA) Web site.

Hunting with non-valid tags in possession?
Question: Last fall while hunting with a guide in D6 zone for deer and bear, I shot a nice 300-pound black bear. While getting my bear tag from my backpack, one of the guides saw that I had both my D5 and D6 deer tags as well as my bear tag. He told me that it was illegal to be hunting in one zone (D6), while having a different zone tag (D5) in my possession. Is this true? If I have a legal tag for the zone in which I’m hunting, I can’t see any reason why it would be illegal to have a legal tag with me for another zone. I always keep all of my tags together in my backpack and I’m sure most all hunters do, too. Would you please see if this is a judgment call on the part of the game warden or if there actually is a law that says it’s illegal? (Bill K., Placerville)

Answer: Regulations require only that hunters must have in their possession a current tag valid for the species and the zone in which they are hunting. Possession of another tag issued to the same hunter but valid for another zone or species is not prohibited (CCR Title 14, sections 708, 360 and 361).

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She cannot personally answer everyone’s questions but will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at

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