SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - They have 10 legs, hard shells and some of us call them dinner. Lobster season is here, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has new regulations to protect this species, which could cost you if you miss the fine print.
Imagine living your life as a bottom feeder. You're nothing but an infant larvae swimming among plankton before settling to the bottom, where eventually you grow a hard shell that's your only security blanket. That's the life of a spiny California lobster.
"Usually they start to reproduce, youngest is about 5 or usually about 7 or so. Just about the time they reach legal size they really start to become reproductively active," SDSU Ret. Diving Officer Mark Flahan said.
Just about the time you get ready to start dating fellow single lobsters and mate, this lumbering giant from land decides you'd make a great meal, and voila, it's lobster season.
"There's two parts to it, one is the excitement of just diving for a lobster," Flahan said. "If this guy's legal, he's going in a bag and he's going home with me."
There's no denying these bugs are delicious and worth a chunk of money, sometimes going for as much as $22 a pound. That's why Fish and Game is requiring sport fishermen to report their lobster catch with a report card.
"They're only getting maybe 25 to 30 percent of those back, so it's either a $20 penalty next year to get a new one, or if you're a bad violator you may not be able to get a new one at all. In order to get one you have to have a driver's license. They can track it to the individual and know when you got it and if you turned it in.
"I think that hoopnetters right now, it's believed that they may catch more than anybody. So the big thing for those report cards and for Fish and Game to manage the fisheries is to find out exactly what the hoop catch is so we can compare that to the diver and compare that to the recreational person," Flahan said.
So whether you're scuba diving or hoopnetting, the reason fish and game has set up these rules and regulations is to protect our very precious resource.