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Hawaii Lobster Diving

Current Classification on the 2017 LOF:

Category III
Estimated Number of Participants 19
Target Species lobsters
Applicable Take Reduction Plans None
Observer Coverage Not observed
Marine Mammal Species/Stocks Killed or Injured None documented

^ Number of participants estimates are based on state and federal fisheries permit data.  The estimated number of participants is expressed in terms of the number of active participants in the fishery, when possible.  If this information is not available, the estimated number of vessels or persons licensed for a particular fishery is provided.  If no recent information is available on the number of participants, then the number from the most recent LOF is used.  NMFS acknowledges that, in some cases, these estimations may be inflating actual effort.  

*Observer coverage levels include the latest information reported in the most current final Stock Assessment Report (SAR)

(1) Indicates the stock or species is driving the classification of the fishery 

Note: Current classification based on final LOF, no proposed changes are reflected in this table.

Basis for Current Classification:  There are no known incidental mortalities or serious injuries of marine mammals in this fishery, and there is a remote likelihood of marine mammal interactions because the fishing method is highly selective (collection by hand).

Distribution:  Primarily conducted in state waters. Fishing for lobster is prohibited in state and federal waters during the months of May through August. In 2013, there were 353 fishing trips that reported lobster diving. 

Gear Description: Fishing while swimming free dive (skin diving) or swimming with the assistance of compressed gases (SCUBA, rebreathers, etc.).

Management: The fishery is monitored and managed by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), NMFS, and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council, as appropriate. In general, fisheries are managed for the species harvested rather than by gear, but in some cases there are specific management measures for particular gear types or methods. 

Harvest of Hawaii crustacean management unit species (MUS) in the U.S. EEZ is managed under the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Hawaii Archipelago (Hawaii FEP) and implementing regulations under 50 CFR 665.240 through 665.259. The Hawaii FEP established mandatory permit and reporting requirements to facilitate monitoring of catch and effort. Federal regulations allow only trap and hand harvest methods, and lobsters cannot be taken by means of poisons, drugs, other chemicals, spears, nets, hooks, or explosives. Additionally, there are minimum size limits for spiny and slipper lobsters, and prohibitions against harvesting egg-bearing lobster, retaining mutilated or damaged lobsters, and fishing during the months of May through August, the peak lobster spawning season. Lobster harvest is also subject to an annual catch limit to prevent overfishing.

A commercial marine license issued by DAR is required for all commercial fishing activities. This fishery corresponds to the following fishing method(s) defined by DAR: diving. In state waters, the spiny lobster and slipper lobster fishery is closed from May – August. There are minimum size limits, and prohibitions against harvesting all females (spiny lobsters) or egg-bearing female lobsters (slipper lobsters). Spearing is not allowed, and lobsters must be landed in whole condition only, not mutilated.  

Historical Information

Original Category (Year added to the LOF) III (1996)
Original Number of Participants 6
Basis for Original Classification Listed as Category III because the fishery was
expected to have a remote likelihood of incidental serious injury or mortality of marine mammals.
No observer, logbook, or stranding data were available.
Past Names None
Species/stocks historically documented as killed or injured (but not currently on the list) N/A


Timeline of Changes

  • Estimated number of participants decreased from 23 to 19
  • Estimated number of participants decreased from 29 to 23
  • Estimated number of participants decreased from 39 to 29.
  • Estimated number of participants increased from 36 to 39.
  • Estimated number of participants increased from 19 to 36.
  • Estimated number of participants increased from 6 to 19.


Updated June 19, 2017