Why Spiny Lobster Report Cards?

California Spiny Lobsters (DFG photo by Derek Stein)

Question: A friend of ours received a $290 fine for not filling in his lobster report card correctly last year. What is the purpose of the report cards? If the fine print is so important, why isn’t it listed first? (Joe B., Thousand Oaks)

Answer: While the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has records of commercial lobster harvest dating back to 1916, it wasn’t until 2008 and the introduction of the lobster report card that any kind of gauge on the size or scope of the recreational lobster fishery existed. According to DFG Marine Biologist Travis Buck, close to 30,000 lobster report cards have been sold to sport fisherman for each of the past three years. This in contrast to the landing receipts from only about 150 licensed, active commercial lobster fishermen. DFG biologists have estimated that the recreational catch equals close to half of the commercial catch, which is a significant amount of lobsters.

DFG is mandated by state law to manage the lobster resource, as well as other fish and game, and so biologists must gather as much information as possible from both the commercial and recreational lobster fisheries. When looking at a time series of catch data, Buck says it’s possible to see downward trends, which could signify if the sustainability of the resource is in jeopardy. If catch numbers remain stable year after year, the resource is considered sustainable and no further regulation is deemed necessary.

To learn more about the DFG Marine Region and the lobster report card program, please check out DFG’s website for California spiny lobster-related information, http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/research.asp.

Beagling for bunnies
Question: I am new to the sport of beagling and I was thinking about taking my dogs out rabbit hunting. I don’t carry a gun yet because I haven’t had the chance to practice shooting at low, moving targets. Therefore, I was wondering whether I really need a hunting license if I don’t actually shoot a rabbit? One of the legal methods listed in the regulations for the take of rabbits is with dogs, so are they the same as having a gun? (Anonymous, Greenville)

Answer: Dogs are a legal method of take and are considered an extension of the hunter. Since “take” is defined as “hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill” you would be required to have a hunting license to use your dogs to pursue game.

Fishing a public waterway when posted “No Trespassing”
Question: While fishing on Hot Creek (Mono County), I came to a fenced-off section of the creek, posted with no trespassing signs. I have always been under the impression that once you legally access (don’t cross private property) a river, you may continue fishing the length of it. Am I wrong? (John K.)

Answer: According to California law, most water in above-ground, free-flowing waterways is state water and not considered private property. The land underneath the water, however, may or may not be held by the state. On small or ephemeral streams, for example, the land in the bed of the stream could be privately owned.

If you have legally gained access to the state’s water, such as at a boat ramp or on your own property, or another person who has granted you permission, you can most likely continue up or down the waterway in a boat without trespassing. But anytime you “touch” the bed or bank of the stream that is not owned by you, you may be trespassing.

If there is a fence across the stream, which is common on smaller streams in areas where livestock are common, you can not assume that it is legal to cross over it even if you can do so without touching the bank or bed of the stream. You should not attempt to do so until you have either gained the permission of the person who owns the property or received a determination that the land underneath the stream is owned by the state.

Muzzleloader unloaded
Question: I plan on hunting a lot this year with a recently acquired muzzleloader and need to know the official regs for a “loaded and unloaded” gun. I’ve been told that as long as no cap is in place, the gun is considered unloaded since the cap is needed to charge/fire the gun. (Wendell W., San Jose)

Answer: You are correct. As long as the cap is removed so the gun will not fire, it is considered unloaded.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

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