California Department of Fish and Wildlife

California Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan

The California Spiny Lobster is an important natural resource managed by the state of California for over 100 years. The species supports a valuable commercial fishery and a significant recreational fishery. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has drafted a Lobster Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to guide future management of the fishery as required by the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA).

The MLMA identifies external scientific review as a key tool to ensure management decisions are based on the best available scientific information. It is crucial that management decisions be based upon a foundation of the best available science, and therefore CDFW has asked the California Ocean Science Trust (OST) to coordinate an external scientific and technical review of the harvest control rule threshold reference points prescribed in the draft Lobster FMP and supporting materials. The peer review process has been extended until mid to late May.

Harvest control rules are plans of action that prescribe adjustments in harvest regulations (e.g. fishing effort, allowable catch, minimum legal size) and are activated (“triggered”) when a defined catch or biological limit, also known as a threshold reference point, is reached. CDFW is seeking an independent assessment of whether the technical components and supporting documents that underpin the proposed threshold reference points prescribed in the draft Lobster FMP are scientifically sound and reasonable given CDFW's currently available data streams and analysis techniques. Read additional information about the review process of the Lobster FMP.

Science Review of the FMP is Complete
CDFW would like to thank the Ocean Science Trust and the science review panel for their thoughtful review of the FMP and synthesizing review comments into a concise final report. The report is available on the Ocean Science Trust web page: Review of California Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan.

The Lobster FMP is scheduled to be introduced to the Fish and Game Commission at its December 9-10, 2015 meeting. At that time, the formal public review process will begin and public comment on the Lobster FMP will be sought.

Lobster FMP Timeline


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


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


  • External Scientific Peer Review: November 2014 - February 2015
  • Courtesy release of preliminary draft of Lobster Fishery Management Plan: November 2014


  • Department submits the Lobster Fishery Management Plan and requests authorization to publish notice of intent to amend regulations. This starts the process for formal public review and comment of the FMP and proposed regulations: December 9-10, 2015 Fish and Game Commission meeting.


  • Discussion and possible adoption of the lobster FMP and proposed regulations and certification of the environmental document: Fish and Game Commission meetings: Dates yet to be determined


  • FMP and adopted regulations effective for the 2017/18 lobster season
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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