With the upcoming 2015-2016 recreational lobster fishing season fast approaching, many are rushing out to purchase their required spiny lobster report cards. If you step up to the cash register to find that you need to pay a non-return fee, that can only be because one or more of your lobster report cards from last season was not reported or received by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) by the due date. Over 6,500 lobster report cards were received at CDFW’s San Diego office by the April 30 deadline this year, and all of those cards have been entered into the Automated License Data System.
The non-return fee was adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission in 2013 to improve report card return rates. CDFW staff do not have the authority to exempt or refund the non-return fee for cards that were not received by the April 30 deadline. Pursuant to the California Code of Regulations, cards that were submitted by mail and not received by CDFW are considered not returned, including those that are lost in the mail. Per California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 1.74(e)(3):
“If a report card is submitted by mail and not received by the Department, it is considered not returned unless the individual reports his card as lost pursuant to subsection 1.74(f).”
To ensure that you do not have to pay a fee in the future, remember to report every card that you purchased, including lost cards, by April 30 following the end of the lobster season, as specified on the card and as required by California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 1.74(d)(3). CDFW recommends reporting online and saving your confirmation number, which provides verification that the report card was submitted and received by CDFW prior to the reporting deadline. The website address for reporting online is printed on the card itself. Over 13,000 report cards were entered online before the April 30 deadline last year.
In lieu of the non-return fee, anglers have the option of sitting out one lobster season to avoid paying the fee. For more information, see Section 1.74 Sport Fishing Report Cards and Tagging Requirements on pgs. 23-25 of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet. Booklets are available wherever sport fishing licenses are sold, at your local CDFW office, and online.
CDFW’s Marine Region thanks all spiny lobster report card holders for their cooperation. Data gathered from the cards allows insight into total catches and catch rates, which are crucial information for managing the fishery sustainably.
Post by Travis Buck, CDFW Marine Environmental Scientist