Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

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Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

Postby chris oak » October 14th, 2020, 12:32 pm

It's up to you whether or not you want to keep big lobster guys, they are not that important on future stock. Don't say I never did anything for you :rofl: This is from one of the DFW personnel and they said I could spread this email:

"Hello Chris,

I am happy to answer your questions. The idea of a slot limit (aka disallowing large lobsters to be kept) was carefully analyzed during the Lobster Advisory Committee process while writing the California Spiny Lobster Fishery Management Plan, and the benefits of a slot limit would not be as great as one might think. Natural mortality in lobsters, even excluding fishing take, is high. The health of our lobster stock is really dependent on sexually mature sub-legal sized lobsters. The current size limit was selected to allow lobsters to spawn 1-3 times before reaching legal size. Female lobsters grow slower than males because they put more energy into egg production. [flash=]Poaching sub-legal sized lobsters has been identified as probably the greatest potential threat to the lobster stock. Most of the truly large lobsters are males and releasing them doesn’t have the same reproductive benefits as protecting the sub-legal spawners. Sub-legal sized lobsters are truly the engines of sustainability for this fishery. [/flash]

Cannibalism is not uncommon in the animal world, but I know of no evidence that CA spiny lobster have higher rates of cannibalism at larger sizes. Furthermore, cannibalism by large animals would be a natural behavior and would occur regardless of whether the fishery existed. Evidence from other lobster species suggests cannibalism is more tied to food limitations than anything else, and we see no evidence of food shortage for our species. Finally, our scientific analysis of sustainability of our fishery is conducted by looking at both fishing mortality and natural mortality (which would include cannibalism) so any naturally occurring cannibalism is accounted for in our models."
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Re: Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

Postby dctrjayyy » October 14th, 2020, 4:16 pm

Good info. Thanks Chris.

Regardless of them supporting the fishery or not, I personally choose to release the big bugs. They are probably older than me and who knows what they have survived if they could tell the story. I get a ton of joy seeing them and sometimes even a fight and a picture. I hope the next guys that finds him will get that too! I get plenty of lobster meat from regular size bugs.

Good luck out there guys.
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Re: Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

Postby chris oak » October 14th, 2020, 4:46 pm

Yup those big bugs are definitely pretty old and more than likely I'd release them as well but it's all a personal thing. My goal is to provide facts so everyone can decide for themselves, we've been arguing about this forever and now we have a solid answer.
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Re: Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

Postby John Hughes » October 15th, 2020, 5:46 am

dctrjayyy wrote:Good info. Thanks Chris.

Regardless of them supporting the fishery or not, I personally choose to release the big bugs. They are probably older than me and who knows what they have survived if they could tell the story. I get a ton of joy seeing them and sometimes even a fight and a picture. I hope the next guys that finds him will get that too! I get plenty of lobster meat from regular size bugs.

Good luck out there guys.



I'm with Josh on this one. I get joy out of the release. I also find the big ones are a bit of a PITA to deal with in the kitchen, but that's just me.
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Re: Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

Postby Andrew » October 15th, 2020, 12:48 pm

Thanks for sharing their email, Chris. I've been grabbing bugs for most of my life on both coasts and it never once occurred to me that the size limit was selected to allow pre-legal spawning because those pre-legal lobsters are the "engines" of the fishery. I'll pass this along to friends.
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Re: Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

Postby chris oak » October 15th, 2020, 6:22 pm

Yah that was eye opening, I just wish they had provided me with the research article as I found it interesting. I can't remember who I was talking with, but we do scientific surveys from time to time. You would not believe the number of very small females that are berried in June. I'm talking about bugs that are a half inch or more under legal carapace size. I always assumed that the larger bugs, like four pounders were the life of the industry but I was wrong.

After hearing that I'm relieved, there's many times when I'm bugging and see one that looks legal and as soon as I grab it I can tell it's short, I don't measure those and just release. One of the things they didn't mention that I read in some article was that bugs that lose limbs have a less successful chance of spawning, as regeneration uses a lot of their energy. It makes sense, we raised black sea bass a year ago. Some batches of eggs were fantastic with lots of oil globules which provide nutrition during the cell division. Some were what one of larval specialist guys said was "stressed" meaning that the eggs were of poor quality. He called it right, those eggs might hatch but the larvae died quickly.
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Re: Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

Postby mikeme » October 16th, 2020, 8:54 am

Great Info. I've never gotten any over 4 1/2 pounds, so don't have to worry about it. Really like to grab a 12 pounder for once to see how it feels though.
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Re: Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

Postby Adam Sachs » October 16th, 2020, 1:07 pm

Thank you for providing the information, Chris. As a tribe of selective sportsmen and sportswomen, it's important that we keep ourselves up to date with accurate information from fishery scientists about the species we target.

chris oak wrote: After hearing that I'm relieved, there's many times when I'm bugging and see one that looks legal and as soon as I grab it I can tell it's short, I don't measure those and just release. One of the things they didn't mention that I read in some article was that bugs that lose limbs have a less successful chance of spawning, as regeneration uses a lot of their energy. It makes sense, we raised black sea bass a year ago. Some batches of eggs were fantastic with lots of oil globules which provide nutrition during the cell division. Some were what one of larval specialist guys said was "stressed" meaning that the eggs were of poor quality. He called it right, those eggs might hatch but the larvae died quickly.


I too have heard this from biologists and fishery experts. Perhaps then, to minimize unnecessary damage to the fishery, divers should seek to be as selective in our attempted grabs when lobstering as we are with attempted shots when spearing fish. We often talk about the importance of how proper gear choice and shot selection increases the likelihood landing our target fish, but what about lobster?

Are there grabbing techniques that we should consider encouraging or discouraging among the tribe? What can we do to increase our chances retaining the only the legal lobster we will keep and minimize damaging otherwise healthy lobster whose chances of successful reproduction or even survival may be diminished?

In other words, how can we move a little closer towards "One grab, one kill" ?
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Re: Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

Postby John Hughes » October 16th, 2020, 7:18 pm

Adam Sachs wrote:Thank you for providing the information, Chris. As a tribe of selective sportsmen and sportswomen, it's important that we keep ourselves up to date with accurate information from fishery scientists about the species we target.

chris oak wrote: After hearing that I'm relieved, there's many times when I'm bugging and see one that looks legal and as soon as I grab it I can tell it's short, I don't measure those and just release. One of the things they didn't mention that I read in some article was that bugs that lose limbs have a less successful chance of spawning, as regeneration uses a lot of their energy. It makes sense, we raised black sea bass a year ago. Some batches of eggs were fantastic with lots of oil globules which provide nutrition during the cell division. Some were what one of larval specialist guys said was "stressed" meaning that the eggs were of poor quality. He called it right, those eggs might hatch but the larvae died quickly.


I too have heard this from biologists and fishery experts. Perhaps then, to minimize unnecessary damage to the fishery, divers should seek to be as selective in our attempted grabs when lobstering as we are with attempted shots when spearing fish. We often talk about the importance of how proper gear choice and shot selection increases the likelihood landing our target fish, but what about lobster?

Are there grabbing techniques that we should consider encouraging or discouraging among the tribe? What can we do to increase our chances retaining the only the legal lobster we will keep and minimize damaging otherwise healthy lobster whose chances of successful reproduction or even survival may be diminished?

In other words, how can we move a little closer towards "One grab, one kill" ?


I would say this is like anything else. The more experienced you get, the more selective you are able to be. As my eye has become more accustomed to what an actual legal bug looks like, I don't bother wasting time ( thereby respecting the undersized animal) on shorts. I grab way, way less and don't damage as many. Same thing with a speargun. I pull the trigger much more infrequently these days, only taking what I intend to take and losing fewer.

Of course, the newer diver is out there shooting everything that swims and slamming every bug they see often times just for "practice."

I'm not quite sure that will ever change. Of course discussions like this, mentoring and education do go a ways to helping. The resource has survived so far, but as the sport blows up, so will the impact. Just my opinion, but the current increase in hooping will be the ultimate downfall though.
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Re: Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

Postby chris oak » October 17th, 2020, 7:42 am

This was some of the other info that we discussed:
On big lobsters being sterile or great breeders: I pointed this out before because our big male has successfully mated with the female in the tank at least two times that I remember. Big lobsters are not sterile. The general info I got from the advisory committee was that although it is possible for large ten pound lobsters to breed, it is hard for them to find a suitable mate as most females don't reach that size because they are using their energy for egg production, not growth. Therefore big male lobsters are not very important to the breeding stock as their reproductive numbers are too small to quantify.

On lobsters being cannibalistic: One of the rumors the divers heard were that you should take the big lobsters because they are cannibalistic and eat the smaller lobsters. While def possible, I pulled some papers and it said there was a bit of difference between what large and small lobsters consumed. They said the large ones mostly eat urchins and I think snails. The paper said that the big ones sometimes had lobster pieces in them but they believed it was from eating molts. The dfw does not think they are cannibalistic.

Surprisingly it is the smaller sub legal females that provide most of the future stock.
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Re: Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

Postby John Hughes » October 17th, 2020, 7:15 pm

chris oak wrote:This was some of the other info that we discussed:
On big lobsters being sterile or great breeders: I pointed this out before because our big male has successfully mated with the female in the tank at least two times that I remember. Big lobsters are not sterile. The general info I got from the advisory committee was that although it is possible for large ten pound lobsters to breed, it is hard for them to find a suitable mate as most females don't reach that size because they are using their energy for egg production, not growth. Therefore big male lobsters are not very important to the breeding stock as their reproductive numbers are too small to quantify.

On lobsters being cannibalistic: One of the rumors the divers heard were that you should take the big lobsters because they are cannibalistic and eat the smaller lobsters. While def possible, I pulled some papers and it said there was a bit of difference between what large and small lobsters consumed. They said the large ones mostly eat urchins and I think snails. The paper said that the big ones sometimes had lobster pieces in them but they believed it was from eating molts. The dfw does not think they are cannibalistic.

Surprisingly it is the smaller sub legal females that provide most of the future stock.


Really interesting info here. I've always wondered why the males get so much bigger but it makes sense now that it's pointed out.

Appreciate you sharing this Chris.
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Re: Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

Postby Bill McIntyre » October 18th, 2020, 10:04 am

I sympathize with the problem of being so big that its hard to find suitable mates.
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Re: Answer on keeping big lobster from the DFW

Postby Andrew » October 18th, 2020, 11:55 am

Bill McIntyre wrote:I sympathize with the problem of being so big that its hard to find suitable mates.

:rofl:
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