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Spiny lobster from California. (Photo: Stock File)

Spiny lobster sector gets boost through bill

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Thursday, October 12, 2017, 03:00 (GMT + 9)

The Governor of California has approved a bill proposing Spiny Lobster Commission creation to proactively address business needs, industry techniques and sustainability.

“This is really an effort of the fishers, businesses and conservation groups coming together to proactively solve problems,” said Assembly member Monique Limón, bill author.

“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,” added the repsentative of the Assembly from California, as it was reported by Santa Barbara Edhat.

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,” pointed out Chris Voss, a spiny lobster fisherman and President of Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara, Inc.

California Spiny Lobster – Panulirus Interruptus (Photo:danapointfishcompany.com)

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 USD 13.7 million in 2016.

The industry supports several large processing and transshipment businesses targeting a growing domestic and export markets.

“The Spiny Lobster fleet is a vital component of Santa Barbara's working waterfront, representing an estimated 30 per cent 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,” concluded the Nature Conservancy of California’s Senior Fisheries Project Director Tom Dempsey.
 
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