Sunday, 23 June 2024

California Outdoors: Recreational spiny lobster season, deer tag validation

A spiny lobster. Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Spiny lobster season

Q: What are the dates of the upcoming recreational spiny lobster season? Can I purchase a lobster report card before the season starts?

A: Divers and hoop netters can now begin preparing for the 2021-22 recreational spiny lobster season by purchasing Spiny Lobster Report Cards.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, or CDFW, requires all lobster divers and hoop netters to record their catches on a Spiny Lobster Report Card. The cards can be purchased online for $10.54 at

Spiny Lobster Report Cards are valid for the length of the recreational spiny lobster season, which runs from Oct. 2, 2021, through March 16, 2022. A $21.60 non-return fee will be charged when purchasing a Spiny Lobster Report Card if the previous year’s report card was not returned or reported online by the April 30, 2022 deadline. To avoid the fee, you may skip one lobster fishing season.

After skipping one season, you can purchase a Spiny Lobster Report Card the following season at no extra cost.

In addition to the Spiny Lobster Report Card, all divers and hoop netters 16 years of age or older must also purchase a California Sport Fishing License with a Sport Ocean Enhancement Validation, except for persons hoop netting from a public pier.

Deer tag validation

Q: I’m a Cal FIre firefighter, and I heard there were changes regarding which firefighters can validate deer tags. What are those changes and can I validate my hunting buddy’s deer if he gets a deer this season? Can I validate my own tag?

A: Good question and yes, there were some changes on this topic in 2019. We will answer the question as it relates to both deer and elk, since they are lumped together for regulation purposes.

Before we answer your question, let us thank you for your service to the state of California. We’re all aware and appreciate what you and your Cal Fire, U.S. Forest Service, and other municipal firefighter sisters and brothers are doing for us on a day-to-day basis during California’s fire season, which seems to grow longer every year.

A few years ago, the California Fish and Game Commission clarified which firefighters could countersign deer and elk tags. California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 14, section 708.6 covers countersigning and transporting requirements. To start, CCR, Title 14, section 708.6(b) states that any person legally taking a deer in California shall have the deer license tag countersigned by a person authorized by the Fish and Game Commission before transporting such deer, except for the purpose of taking the deer to the nearest person authorized to countersign the license tag, on the route being followed from the point where the deer was taken (refer to Fish and Game Code, section 4341). Same goes for elk, as stated in CCR, Title 14, section 708.6(c). Finally, CCR, Title 14, section 708.6(d) lists personnel authorized to countersign deer and elk tags.

To answer your question directly: Yes, you may countersign your friend’s deer tag if they are successful this season. As a firefighter and a CAL FIRE employee, you are actually double-covered in the regulation. Most firefighters are limited to the authority to countersign deer and elk tags if they are employed full-time and the carcasses are brought into the station while they are on duty. CAL FIRE employees have the extended authority to countersign under the circumstances you describe, such as in the field if your friend is successful.

To answer your follow-up question: No, you cannot countersign your own tag.

GPS for MPAs

Q: How do I identify GPS coordinates for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) when fishing for groundfish at the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco?

A: Thanks for your interest in California fishing opportunities, and groundfish. CDFW has two great resources that should help. Our web-based Ocean Sport Fishing Interactive Map allows you to view any area of the state and see the various marine protected areas and other restrictions. If you click or tap on a specific location, more detailed information, including MPA coordinates, will be displayed. When used with a smartphone, the interactive map will show your current position in relation to the various boundaries. Note that this tool requires a cellular or internet connection, so you may need to access it in advance. CDFW is currently working on a truly mobile app that will replace this tool and work outside of cellular range.

Additionally, CDFW has produced printable maps that depict the coastal, island and offshore areas that are open (or closed) to groundfish fishing in 2021. These detailed Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) Maps show California RCA waypoints and lines, as well as MPAs. Map #11 shows the Farallon Islands.

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