Cost-effective programs for gathering essential fisheries information (EFI) are critically needed to
improve the data-poor state of fisheries in California and worldwide. The California Marine Life
Management Act (MLMA) recognizes this need and requires development of fishery management
plans (FMPs) that identify suitable protocols for collecting data, and use of the best available
scientific information to inform management. Furthermore, in the United States, several state
and federal laws require the engagement of fishermen and others in fisheries management. To
address these needs, we developed a collaborative at-sea sampling program (CASP) by:
• determining the key regulatory, administrative and operational features of established
collaborative fisheries data collection programs,
• developing a robust sampling design with associated protocols for the commercial
California spiny lobster fishery,
• designing, testing and modifying data collection and management components of the
sampling program, and
• exploring options for sustaining the program into the future.
The goal of the program was to provide a model for generating an ongoing stream of diverse data
and interpretation for integration into management, thereby supporting use of more
sophisticated and robust models for managing California fisheries.
We used the California commercial fishery for spiny lobster, for which an FMP is being developed,
as a test case. This project built upon earlier work by the co-PIs developing a CASP for California’s
southern rock crab commercial fishery (Culver et al. 2010) and by Neilson to implement a lobster
fishery data collection program similar to one used in the New Zealand rock lobster fishery.