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Abstract

The California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) commercial fishing effort along the southern Orange County, California coastline was examined using fishery-independent counts of trap marker buoys and fishery-dependent information submitted to the California Department of Fish and Game in the required commercial logbooks. Buoy counts were conducted in spatially-discrete subsections of the coastline inshore of the 30-m isobath to determine the density of fishing effort at a scale finer than is afforded by the standard fishing blocks used by the Department of Fish and Game. Both the buoy densities and fisherman-reported trap pull counts recorded declining effort across the area as the season progressed. Effort was more diffuse at the beginning of the season, but increasingly focused on areas covered by giant kelp canopy, including the boundary of a previously existing, small no-take marine reserve located in the study area. General effort declined as the frequency of capturing a harvestable California spiny lobster declined. The catch per unit effort of harvestable and sublegal individuals was found to decline at highly correlated rates with no effect on the following season. Fishing regulations in portions of this study area will be increased through the implementation of a network of no-take marine reserves. Data presented herein provides a baseline to compare future fishing effort in the Laguna Beach area after two of the three most intensively fished sites are closed due to their inclusion in the Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve and adjoining State Marine Conservation Area.

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