Spiny lobsters are sold fresh live and frozen in raw tails and meat as well as whole, either blanched or fully cooked. Spiny lobsters are typically graded by the ounce and fresh supply is mostly available before the new year. These warmwater lobster tails will be smooth and have a spotted, greenish shell. It has a soft texture, delicate flavor and is frequently marketed as warmwater tails. The quality and texture of warmwater lobster tails varies considerably depending on handling. Unlike American lobster, spiny lobsters have a spiny hard shell for protection and lack large front claws.
Buyer Beware: Avoid diver-caught tails that are mushy and textured from sitting too long on a boat. Some buyers recommend finding trusted brands and sticking with them since some producers add weight with excessive glaze or a tripoly solution soak
California spiny lobsters, also known as red rock lobster, are fecund and inherently resilient to fishing pressure. Their sharp points also provide protection against predators. They are found along the Californian Coast to Mexico with a small number in the Gulf of California. In the mid-1970s, their population reached a record low due after decades of unregulated fishing. Since then, lobster abundance has increased and now appears stable. Lobster abundance is also strongly influenced by environmental conditions.
The overall status of the stocks is not currently known and there is concern about using commercial catch data as an indicator. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s latest Seafood Watch report called the uncertainty over catch per unit effort cause for moderate concern.
Habitat impacts (Wild)
These lobsters are usually caught using rectangular heavy wire mesh traps set and weighted down along rocky areas of the seafloor. These traps don’t cause significant damage to the ocean floor but a large number of them could have a negative effect on underwater environment over time. Some California spiny lobsters in warmer waters are also landed by divers.
Lobster traps are required to have escape ports for immature lobsters and in California the traps must all have metal crimps that rust out over time to reduce incidences of ghost fishing. Some interactions with sea birds, primarily cormorants, are known to occur but data about the extent is poor, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Bycatch occasionally includes octopus and sheepshead, which can be released alive. Overall bycatch in this fishery is considered minimal.
Management Effectiveness: In California spiny lobsters are managed by the California Department of Fish and Game while they’re managed by the National Commission for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Mexico. Management measurements in both lobster fisheries include seasonal closures, gear restrictions, minimum size limits, and restrictions on the number of permit holders allowed. Commercial catch data in California is used for monitoring, not scientific data. Currently the California Department of Fish and Game is developing a fishery management plan. However, it’s early to know whether this will take into account the important role lobster play in marine ecosystems, the Monterey Bay Aquarium noted. In Mexico, scientific stock assessments were carried out by the National Institute of Fisheries.