California Spiny Lobster are harvested off the coast of Southern California from October until the season closes in March.
They’re nocturnal scavengers, coming out of the rocky dens where they reside to forage and feed on mussels, sea urchin, small fish, and sometimes other lobsters.
Spiny Lobsters differ from their counterparts in the Northeast in a couple ways. They have no claws, so they use their powerful tail and sharp spines as methods of defense. As a result, they generally yield about 25% more meat per pound!
These lobsters move to deeper waters in the winter to mate, and then move to shallower waters in the late Spring and Summer to lay their eggs. They’re preyed upon by a variety of local fish such as Sheepshead and Black Sea Bass, as well as Octopus and Sea Otters.
The price of this product has soared in the last 10 years due to demand fromAsia- specifically China. The fishery itself continues to remain under 1million pounds per year, ranging between 600,000 and 900,000 pounds per year.
There’s no seasonal quota currently set for the fishery, but the CaliforniaDepartment of Fish & Wildlife is VERY strict with regards to daily catch and permit issuance, and we love this fact!
Enforcement most often occurs through managing the size of the lobsters that are caught. All lobsters, both commercially and recreationally, must be of legal size. The minimum size lobster must have a carapace that is at least3.25” in length. Lobsters reach this size between 7 and 11 years of age and this has allowed them to reproduce at least once during their lifetime, ensuring the continuation of the species.
Over 80% of the lobsters that are caught each season fall in the range of1.25-2.00 pounds, but these animals have been known to grow as large as 20pounds.
Fisherman will set traps close to shore at the outset of the season before moving to deeper water and areas off of the Channel Islands after the New Year.
Areas of Harvest:
Magdalena Bay, Baja California to Morro Bay, CA
October to March
Mild yet sweet taste, firm texture
Mussels, urchins, snails, and some small fish (Scavengers)
CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife