Lobster Season Has Commenced

Jake Carlson with the lobster he caught. Photo courtesy of Will Nicholas.

The recreational California spiny lobster season opened on Sept. 29, and some Point Loma Nazarene University students are preparing to get out in the water and go diving. 

According to Marine Management News, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife planned to delay the commercial and recreational season in specific areas of Los Angeles and Orange County. This delay was due to the discovery of domoic acid, a deadly toxin, in many of the lobsters in the area. Despite this health concern, the department decided to follow through with opening the season on Sept. 29. 

First-year kinesiology major Dillon Downing works at Dana Landing, a Mission Bay fishing shop. Downing said that he has noticed an increase in demand for gear required for lobster diving now that the season has opened. 

“There’s a ton more people buying licenses, lobster gear and a lot more bait,” said Downing. “We prepare in advance, probably like a month before the opener just to see if we have enough stuff.”

Apart from the general population of San Diego, some PLNU students have become more interested in this hobby and plan to partake in lobster diving this season. 

“I feel like there’s a greater hype surrounding it. I think with the addition of the fishing club, it’s being talked about more and more. So I do think that everyone’s excited to get out there and get some lobster,” said second-year organizational communication major Lauren Haughey.

Fourth-year international business major and president of the Point Loma Fishing Club Jake Carlson added that trends and hobbies tend to catch on and spread quicker on PLNU’s campus, leading to an internal increase in the sport’s popularity. 

“Since Point Loma is a pretty niche community, people notice when you are doing something,” said Carlson. “I feel like especially since my friends and I have been doing it a lot recently, it has been gaining more traction and people are noticing it a bit more.” 

The fishing club gained 140 new members from sign-ups at this year’s PLNU club fair alone.

Within the first few days of the season underway, Carlson has already dove on three different occasions and plans to go out as frequently as the conditions at Sunset Cliffs allow him to.

“It is all dependent on clear water, for diving at least,” said Carlson. “We don’t get good, clear water often at the cliffs. It’s pretty dirty a lot of the time because there is a lot of limestone and silt. So, I go whenever it’s clear.”

The school’s proximity to the ocean has motivated Carlson to dive many times over the years and find his favorite places to catch lobster. 

“I’ve dove all over the cliffs,” said Carlson. “Obviously there’s little pockets of good lobster diving all around and you just have to know where those are. It just takes time, you just have to put the time in.”

Yet to go on her first lobster dive, Haughey addressed her excitement and interest in the activity.

“The attraction to lobster diving for me is that you get to go out there and hunt the lobster,” said Haughey. “It’s really rewarding at the end of the day whenever you get to come home and cook fresh food that you gathered yourself and you know exactly where it’s coming from.”

Growing up and spending summers in Alaska, Haughey became accustomed to catching her own food and the benefits that come along with it. 

“It’s cool being at a school where we have access to harvesting our own food. At a lot of schools, you don’t have that option and here we do,” said Haughey.

The students agreed that it is important for individuals to obtain the required fishing license and lobster report card if they are interested in lobster diving.

“Fish and Game will patrol,” said Carlson. “They have cars that go down and around campus sometimes and they also have lookout spots with infrared cameras so if you are diving at night they can see you and see if you have any lobster. So I would not recommend [lobster diving without a license].”

According to the California Fish and Game Commission, the organization’s main responsibilities are to create and enforce policies for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Downing added that the fine for fishing and lobster diving in California without a license or lobster report can be up to $1,000.  
To learn more about the delay in this year’s lobster season, referenced above, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website