Fisherman and university researcher reviewing island habitat

The primary objective of CALobster is to promote and conduct community-based research efforts that lead to the best management practices and help maintain working harbors. To sustain California marine resources, managers have implemented fishery controls, such as total allowable catch, limiting gear types and fishing depth, closed seasons, and transferable fishing permits. Many of these measures were suggested or supported by the lobster fishery, and undoubtedly these regulations have contributed to sustaining harvested populations of spiny lobster and other nearshore species. Nevertheless, the status of California spiny lobster and other fish stocks are largely unknown, and essential fishery information is lacking for a number of important species.

Traditional western management frameworks are frequently not community-based or habitat-specific, nor are they cost-effective under increasing fiscal restraints. CALobster provides a forum for fishermen, together with scientists, managers, and others, to participate productively in fisheries and reef ecology, data collection, and other research activities designed to advance spatially-explicit stock assessments, ecosystem- and zonal-based management, and the conservation of fishing cultures. We are a collaboration of marine stakeholders, including especially the California Lobster and Trap Fishermen's Association (CLTFA) and University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) marine scientists.

In 2003 the California Fish & Game Commission together with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary designated at network of state marine reserves at the northern Channel Islands. Additional protected areas are planned for the Santa Barbara and Ventura coast in accordance with the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). A key objective of CALobster is to assess the impact of marine reserves on target species, fishing yield, and the socio-economics of regional fishing communities. We are testing basic theories that underlie marine reserves as management tools, including the enhancement of yield through spill-over, shifts in fishing effort, the conservation of broodstock, and maintenance of ecosystem services.

Another objective of CALobster is training generations of students in multidisciplinary approaches to fishery ecology and fisheries co-management. This is possible only with the participation of committed mentors, including fishermen, ecologists, economists, anthropologists, trades people and craftsmen, policy makers, managers, and philosophers.

Specific Objectives

  • Generate, analyze, and synthesize data that promote sustainability of the lobster fishery and nearshore finfisheries in our region
  • Examine lobster-habitat and reef-fish relationships
  • Integrate ecology and fishery science approaches in habitat-based studies
  • Explore ecological effects of Channel Islands State Marine Reserve Network
  • Assess impacts of marine reserves on fishing behavior and economics
  • Advance management through adaptive learning
  • Build a data-rich foundation for Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management
  • Use marine reserves to advance regional stock assessment