Governor Brown Signs Limón Bill to Aid Local Spiny Lobster Fisheries
SACRAMENTO—Governor Brown has signed Assembly Bill 944, authored by Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara). AB 944 will authorize the creation of the Spiny Lobster Commission, an instrument to proactively address business needs, industry techniques and sustainability. The news comes as the Santa Barbara Fishermen’s Market is having its Ribbon Cutting on Saturday, October 7.
“This is really an effort of the fishers, businesses and conservation groups coming together to proactively solve problems,” said Assemblymember Limón. “With AB 944, the Spiny Lobster Commission will be able to carry out programs of education, marketing and research to promote our local product, and to do so in a way that is sustainable.”
The Spiny Lobster Commission will be tasked with developing fisher-led partnerships to reduce entanglement of whales with lobster trap gear, funding and guiding scientific study of seafood safety in light of rising rates of bio toxin loads linked to warming oceans and implementing new technology to increase the value, quality and competitiveness of California’s spiny lobster in global markets.
“The California Spiny Lobster fishery is a well-managed and lucrative fishery, but faces some difficult challenges ahead related to climate change and global markets. A new marketing commission will enable the fishermen take an active role in problem solving these challenges in collaboration with regulators and buyers,” said Chris Voss, a spiny lobster fisherman and President of Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara, Inc.
The California Spiny Lobster fishery employs over 150 small, owner-operated fishing boats in Southern
California and their crews. Landings of lobster across 20 ports generated $13.7 million in 2016. The industry supports several large processing and transshipment businesses targeting a growing domestic and export markets. The fishery is sustainable and healthy, but has challenges facing its future.
“The Spiny Lobster fleet is a vital component of Santa Barbara's working waterfront, representing an estimated 30% of the economic value of our local catch. Making sure the Lobster Fishery has the resources and organizational capacity to be resilient and sustainable into the future will bring ancillary benefits to keep our port infrastructure going for all of our fisheries,” said Kim Selkoe, Executive Director of Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara, Inc. and a marine scientist at UC Santa Barbara.
The establishment of a commission will also facilitate a research program to develop improved harvesting and processing practices, an integrated approach to fishery management, and more efficient resource assessment, monitoring and protection tools.
“The Nature Conservancy is working to advance solutions to improve how we manage and protect California’s ocean resources. This bill represents a major opportunity for leaders in the spiny lobster fishery to take on new roles in advancing a more sustainable fishery and in support of healthy oceans and we appreciate Assemblymember Limón’s leadership in making this happen,” said the Nature Conservancy of California’s Senior Fisheries Project Director Tom Dempsey.
AB 944 was signed on October 5, 2017, and will become law on January 1, 2018.