Here is what's happening with local abalone:
On December 8, 2017 the California Fish and Game Commission voted to close the 2018 northern California recreational abalone fishery (complete article at the bottom of the page).
A statement from SEALS:
After the near depletion of certain species like the american bison, the original Fish & Game models were initially adopted and supported by local hunting and fishing communities around the country to insure that future generations would forever be able to hunt and fish. It was determined that by selling licenses for the recreational harvest of a mere 5% of what was considered the annual mortality rate of any given species due to natural causes, the funds would provide a sustainable management plan. The 5% portion of the natural death toll was considered incapable of ever doing harm to the species. Unfortunately, a lot has happened since then, some good, some not...and now that original vision has been all but forgotten.
Public meetings these past few years have offered a reflection of that original vision to no avail. Citizens reminded California Fish & Wildlife officials that the 7" red abalone size limit was based on the reproductive years being between 2" and 5", that abalone 7" and above were not even contributing to the general welfare of the species, just more mouths to feed; that the Marine Protection Areas (MPAs) were sold to the public and established to insure the survival of marine species completely separate from commercial or recreational harvests; that if the 5% taken by recreational fishing was predetermined to be ineffective to do harm, how could it now do any good to further regulate it? Then after claiming that the current problem is "unprecedented", it was also clearly pointed out that the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan they were using was based on the possibility of over fishing and other problems, and did not take into account the current food supply shortage, and therefore it should not be the measure of the current problem...that by further restricting the recreational harvest, they would be expecting a larger population to feed off a smaller food supply, making matters worse, not better. Examples were given for real solutions of what might be done. But nothing. No public campaign to limit sea urchin populations, as has been done with lion fish throughout the Caribbean. No plan to aid suffering starfish populations (the natural predator to the sea urchins causing the food shortage). Nothing. They just blamed it on the environment (which is lame, because abalone are making a great comeback in Southern California where water temperatures are always higher), and then they closed the 2018 season.
So...here's what SEALS is doing about it:
Join Jennifer...and help local abalone!
Check our FUN Dive schedule and help FEED ABALONE during these kelp-scarce times. We will meet at a local north coast dive site, evaluate conditions, gather kelp scraps from the beach, gear up, and go feed some hungry abs.
Jennifer will share some great how-to tips, and also finish the dive collecting sea urchins (a competitor for kelp that would otherwise go to abalone) - some for immediate consumption on the beach. If you would like to collect some of these local urchin delicacies, you will need a fishing license, game bag, and an ab iron for getting them off the rocks. These are typically scuba dives, but freedivers are also welcome.
Meanwhile...we also recommend you take up spearfishing or scuba diving.
Check it out:
CDFW News announcement - DECEMBER 8, 2017
California Recreational Abalone Fishery to be Closed in 2018
The California Fish and Game Commission yesterday voted to close the 2018 northern California recreational abalone fishery due to ongoing environmental conditions that have significantly impacted the abalone resource. The closure affects next year’s recreational abalone season, which was scheduled to open on April 1, 2018.
The Commission’s 4-0 decision (Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin was absent) upholds the policies of the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan, which was adopted by the Commission in December 2005. Over the past several years, the Commission has taken several actions to reduce take and shorten the season to protect abalone from the unprecedented environmental conditions.
The Commission directed the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to work with stakeholders to deliver a new fishery management plan that includes guidance on navigating these unprecedented conditions. The Commission also directed CDFW to consider how the new fishery management plan can inform the potential reopening of some fishing opportunity for the 2019 season.
More information about California’s recreational abalone fisheries can be found on the CDFW website.
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937