California Department of Fish and Wildlife

California Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan

A spiny lobster Fishery Management Plan (FMP) is being developed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). CDFW decided to move forward with development of an FMP for California spiny lobster as required by the Marine Life Management Act because the lobster supports important commercial and recreational fisheries, and plays a key role in the southern California kelp forest ecosystem. With the implementation of new marine protected areas in Southern California in 2012, the spiny lobster FMP will need to evaluate how MPAs might be incorporated into the management of the state’s lobster fisheries. CDFW is committed to making the process transparent, objective, and accessible to all, with the ultimate goal of completing an adaptable FMP that will ensure a sustainable lobster resource and healthy fisheries.

CDFW began exploring partnership options to assist in the development of the lobster FMP over two years ago (see the October, 2009 issue of the Marine Management News). In May 2011, the Ocean Protection Council (OPC) approved a $990,000 grant to the non-profit California Wildlife Foundation (CWF) to support the lobster FMP process. CWF provides project management and fund administration for CDFW projects. The grant will allow the CDFW to fund completion of FMP development tasks that are unable to be undertaken by staff, and provide for significant public involvement in the FMP process. CDFW issued a call for volunteers to participate on a Lobster Advisory Committee, which has a major role in the FMP process. Public information meetings on the lobster FMP process were held in spring 2012 and 2013. CWF solicited bids for the tasks and sections of the FMP that outside contractors undertook.

A spiny lobster stock assessment, completed by CDFW and reviewed by a panel of experts in 2011, will serve as the basis for this FMP. The stock assessment describes the past and current status of the lobster population off the Southern California coast.

The lobster FMP is a framework document that gathers the best available scientific information on the natural history of spiny lobster, its fisheries (both recreational and commercial), the economic conditions under which they operate, and the effects of the fisheries on the marine ecosystem. The FMP will review fishery management methods used in lobster fisheries in other parts of the world, and examine any other conservation and management measures that should be considered for the sustainability of the resource and its fisheries.

Lobster FMP Timeline


  • Public Meetings: April 18 and 19
  • Lobster Advisory Committee Meetings:
    June 20, August 1, December 5


  • Public Meetings: September TBD
  • Lobster Advisory Committee Meetings:
    April 10, June 12, July 10, August 15, September 11


  • Formal Scientific and Public Review
  • Lobster Advisory Committee Meeting to review Draft FMP: TBD
  • Draft FMP Introduced to Fish and Game Commission


  • Fish and Game Commission adopts FMP and any regulations necessary for implementation
  • Environmental document prepared to accompany Commission action
CA spiny lobster ventures from its den. CDFW photo by Derek Stein.

CA spiny lobster ventures from its rocky hiding place.
CDFW photo by Derek Stein


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