ABALONE REGULATIONS and INTERPRETATION

(new abalone questions and answers added)



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HIGH-GRADING ABALONE (CARRIE WILSON CDFG)

Question: A game warden on the north coast told me recently that abalone high-grading is as much of a problem as poaching, and that its often the legal abalone harvesters who are doing it without even realizing they're doing something wrong. Now we all know the regs say you can take three, so as long as any smaller abs are returned to rocky crevices before leaving the water, and the diver ends up with the three best abalone they can find, what does it really matter? (Rini R., Fort Bragg)


Answer: High-grading for abalone is when legal-sized abalone are extracted from their crevices or detached from their substrate but then later returned in favor of larger animals. This is not legal or sporting and the law prohibits this largely due to concerns for the health of the animals. Abalone are hemophiliacs and can be difficult to dislodge from their protective crevices or substrate. Any cuts or damage they sustain while being detached by the ab iron can cause them bleed to death. For this reason, all legal-sized abalone detached are required to be retained by the person who detaches it, up to the three per bag limit. In addition, no undersized abalone may be retained in any person's possession or under his control. Undersized abalone must be replaced immediately to the same surface of the rock from which detached (California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 29.15[d]).


In addition, according to DFG Lt. Dennis McKiver, no person shall take more than 24 abalone during a calendar year (CCR Title 14, Section 29.15[c]). If the diver takes three legal-sized abalone and puts them back, those abalone still count toward both the divers daily and yearly limit. This means that divers must still record those abalone on their report card so as to not exceed their yearly limit.


If a game warden sees someone take an abalone that is obviously larger than seven inches and the person puts the abalone back, this person has just violated CCR Title 14, Section 29.15(d). If that person then doesn't record the abalone, he is guilty of failing to complete the Abalone Report Card as required. Game wardens on the north coast have written several citations for this, usually to trophy hunters looking for that elusive 10-inch abalone. The wardens try to convince people hunting for trophy abalone to measure them before removing them from rocks.

 

Freezing Abalone

(click on above link to see how to freeze an abalone legally)

http://www.marinebio.net/marinescience/06future/abspdiv.htm 

 (click on above link to view a good abalone site)

 The below High-Grading article was provided by Game Warden Donald Powers and Marine Biologist Jerry Kashiwada....

A diver already has taken his third abalone for the day.  While waiting for his buddy to finish, he finds an abalone he believes is larger than the abalone he took.  What he does next will impact the local abalone population.  Ethically, morally and legally the proper action is to leave the abalone for another day.  The diver may chose to take the larger abalone and return one of his smaller but still legal sized abalone in the mistaken belief that no harm is being done. In doing so, he will not only violate a number of laws, he will probably increase the number of abalone he killed by 33%.  By law, any abalone taken over seven inches is counted toward an individual’s daily bag limit of three abalone, and the individual must stop detaching abalone once the bag limit is reached. This act of “high-grading” abalone is a significant problem that leads to the needless mortality of large adult abalone and negatively impacts abalone populations. 

Divers should not be fooled by the abundance of abalone into believing that abalone are unlimited and the resource cannot be harmed by minor violations of the law.  Similar thoughts were once common throughout the state but now only northern California has abalone in numbers which can support a recreational fishery.  One difference between northern California and the rest of the state is a set of conservative regulations which has limited the numbers of abalone taken each year.  The regulations were written with regard to biological limitations of abalone which increase their vulnerability to fishing pressure.  Violations of the regulations increase the numbers of abalone that die each year and jeopardize the health of the fishery. 

 

Northern California red abalone have the same biological constraints that have lead to the depletion of abalone populations around the world.  One factor which makes abalone vulnerable to fishing pressure is that they often incur mortal wounds when they are pried off the rocks.  Abalone which are cut while being removed often bleed to death because their blood has no clotting factors.  Deep cuts can go unnoticed because abalone blood is nearly colorless and their weak circulatory system pumps low volumes of blood.  Even abalone which are not cut can die from predation if they are returned to a habitat (sand, cobble, or algae-covered rocks) which does not allow them to securely clamp down.  In regards to fishery impacts on abalone populations, the safest practice is to be sure an abalone is legal size before removing it and to stop fishing after removing three abalone.  Any departure from this practice will likely increase abalone mortality and waste an extremely valuable resource.

 

An estimated 264,000 abalone were taken during the 2006 season.  This estimate is considered a minimum number because it is based partly on returned abalone cards and not every abalone taken is marked on cards.  The actual number of abalone killed by the fishery is also increased because of fatal injuries to abalone which are returned as being under-sized or being “high-graded.”  Both sources of additional mortality can be and should be avoided because the number of abalone taken is already high.

 

High abalone densities are vital in maintaining abalone populations.  Abalone are broadcast spawners that release eggs and sperm into the water.  When abalone density is low, fertilization is less likely to be successful and reproduction can fail.  Each abalone which dies as a result of “high grading” reduces the density of reproducing abalone and lowers the chances of eggs becoming fertilized.  “High grading” also mainly involves larger abalone which tend to produce more eggs or sperm than smaller ones and are more valuable in maintaining population levels.

 

Trophy abalone hunters generally search for abalone with shells measuring over ten inches in total length.  Individuals who illegally “high-grade” abalone while trophy diving replace abalone (usually abalone just under 10”) they have removed from the rocks for larger trophy abalone.  Often individuals who are “high-grading” abalone remove several abalone over their limit from the rocks while only retaining three of the largest ones.  As a result, large breeding abalone not retained as a part of an individual’s daily bag limit, needlessly die.

 

The search for trophy abalone is often driven by an individual’s need to show they are an accomplished diver.  The dive community can help protect abalone populations by insisting that divers earn their status by strictly following all laws.  Several techniques can be used to help divers stay legal.  First, know and obey the laws pertaining to abalone.  Use a large gauge to measure abalone while they are attached to rocks.  By measuring an abalone before you pry it off you can ensure it is the trophy you are looking for.  Use a dive line to mark abalone you are gauging or planning to take.  This ensures that you can measure the abalone and pry it off the rock on several dives if needed without the fear of losing it.  

 

The practice of “high-grading” abalone is a large problem that adversely affects the abalone fishery.  Individuals who “high-grade” abalone essentially create the same problem as that of a large scale poaching operation as they significantly increase mortality of breeding abalone along the north coast.  It may not seem as blatant of a violation but the result is the same - the reduced reproductive capacity of local abalone populations.

 FOR THOSE WHO WITNESS THE ILLEGAL PRACTICE OF HIGH GRADING OR ANY OTHER VIOLATION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE LAW, PLEASE CALL DFG’s 24-HR DISPATCH CENTER 1-888-DFG-CALTip.

Don Powers

State Game Warden

 

Jerry Kashiwada

Associate Marine Biologist, Marine Region Invertebrate Management Project

 

 

 

Question: I read your answer to a recent question regarding whether trout can be shipped across state lines, and you said the answer was no. Are there similar restrictions on shipping abalone to friends in other states? Thanks. (Kelly K.)
 
Answer: The possession limit for abalone is three, so you may not ship more than three abalone at any time. Neither the shipper nor the recipient may possess more than the legal limit at any given time. You also may not offer for transportation by common carrier more than one bag limit at a time, and the common carrier transporting the abalone may not legally receive for transportation more than the bag limit during any interval of time (CCR Title 14, Section 29.15). 
 
The abalone must be shipped whole, in the shell, with the tags still attached. Abalone can only be legally removed from the shell once they are being prepared for immediate consumption. Abalone may not be shipped by parcel post. 
 
Keep in mind that to send or give abalone to an out-of-state person, you must also abide by the importation laws of the state where the abalone will be going.  Different states may have different importation regulations that prohibit or restrict such shipments. Check with the authorities of the state where you'd like to ship for their requirements before trying to do so.

             

 

 NEW QUESTIONS ASKED....PLEASE READ!

Question: I live in Modesto and occasionally dive for abalone with

friends from the Bay Area. It's a long drive though and ends up being a
long day, sometimes barely worth the set-up time and effort for just
three abalone. Occasionally, I would prefer to just give my three
abalone to the others in my dive group (so they can enjoy six abalone)
while I drive back to Modesto and catch up on my sleep. How can I
legally do this? (Carl W., Modesto)


 

Answer: You must tag your abalone and fill out your report card
immediately upon exiting the water. Then you must keep your abalone in
your possession until you officially give or “gift” them to someone
else. Keep in mind that whoever you give them to is also allowed to
possess only three tagged abalone, whether they have a fishing license
or not. Therefore, you may not give them to your dive buddies if your
abalone combined with their own puts the gift recipient over their limit
of three in possession.


 

To make sure there are no misunderstandings along the way should your
friends be asked, it’s also a good idea to write a note for them to
keep with your gifted abalone while the abs are in their possession or
are being transported home. The note should be dated and include your
name, address, telephone and fishing license number so that the abalone
can be traced back to you, if necessary.
Question: If an abalone diver takes a legal-sized abalone, is it legal
for him to return it to the same rock if he does not remove more than
three abalone during the day? I know some divers that will dive for
several hours and may "pop" one to three abalones without damaging them,
and keep none of them, returning all of them to the rocks where they
were removed. I don't think there is anything, technically, in the laws
that prevents this, but maybe there should be. (Anonymous)


Answer: There is a law prohibiting this both for the health of the
abalone and to prevent high-grading. All legal-sized abalone detached
must be retained by the person who detaches it. In addition, no
undersize abalone may be retained in any person’s possession or under
his control. Undersize abalone must be replaced immediately to the same
surface of the rock from which detached. (FGC Section 29.15[d]).


In addition, according to DFG Lt. Dennis McKiver, no person shall take
more than 24 abalone during a calendar year (FGC Section 29.15[c]). If
the diver takes three legal-sized abalone and puts them back, those
abalone still count toward both the diver’s daily and yearly limit.
This means that divers must still record those abalone on their report
card so as to not exceed their yearly limit.


If a game warden sees someone take a large abalone that is obviously
larger than seven inches and the person puts the abalone back, this
person has just violated Section 29.15(d). If that person then doesn't
record the abalone, he is guilty of failing to complete the Abalone
Report Card as required. Game wardens on the North Coast have written
several citations for this, usually to trophy hunters looking for that
elusive 10-inch abalone. The wardens try to convince people hunting for
trophy abalone to measure them before removing them from rocks.
California Department of Fish and Game


NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     March 25, 2009


Contact:        Carrie Wilson, Office of Communications, (831) 649-7191


        Jerry Kashiwada, Marine Region, (707) 964-5791


Abalone fishing season opens April 1 north of San Francisco Bay


California’s popular red abalone sport fishery season will open April
1 in waters north of San Francisco Bay. Anyone who takes abalone must
record their catch on an abalone report card and tag the animal with
tags corresponding to the report card.


“Abalone report cards have greatly increased the consistency of our
annual take estimates and are a vital source of information needed to
manage this resource,” said Department of Fish and Game (DFG)
Associate Marine Biologist Jerry Kashiwada. “The tags help address the
issue of people neglecting to fill out their cards and exceeding annual
limits. DFG game wardens are reporting improved compliance with abalone
report card requirements.”


The Fish and Game Commission (Commission) is currently considering
adoption of marine protected areas (MPAs) proposed along the north
central coast region (from Alder Creek/Point Arena to Pigeon Point). The
proposals consider discrete areas that may restrict the take of abalone,
but do not close the entire region to abalone harvest, and would not
affect the 2009 abalone season. To find out more about specific MPA
proposals and the location of proposed MPAs under consideration, please


Proposals are in the public comment period and it is expected that MPAs
in the north central coast region will be adopted in summer 2009 and
become effective in January 2010. To find out more about how to provide
comments to the Commission on the proposed MPAs and the timeline for
Commission adoption of MPAs in the north central coast region, please


Everyone engaging in the take of abalone is responsible for knowing and
abiding by all California Marine Sport Fishing Regulations pertaining to
abalone. DFG produced a short video that demonstrates the required
tagging procedures. To view this video online, please visit


A complete list of abalone fishing regulations is also available in the
2009 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, which is available
wherever fishing licenses are sold or at


Abalone cling to rocks, from wave-swept intertidal ledges to deep ocean
reefs where they feed on kelp and other algae. It can take 12 years or
more for abalone on the north coast to grow to legal size for harvest
and those animals must supply the fishery for several years to come.
Similar to rockfish, they are a long-lived species but have low rates of
reproduction.


Currently, the only sustainable abalone fishery in California is in the
northern region of the state, which has remained productive for nearly
60 years. In 2007, the last year numbers are available, the estimated
catch was 309,000, a considerable increase from the previous high of
264,000. 


According to recent surveys, approximately 34,600 fishermen fished for
abalone in 2007 and spent an estimated $11.3 million in northern
California communities. However, each dollar directly spent on abalone
fishing stimulates a trickle-down effect of additional spending as it
enters local economies. When these additional expenditures are taken
into account, the total economic impact of the abalone fishery for 2007
is nearly $16 million.


Abalone report cards must be returned to DFG within 60 days of the
close of the season (due Jan. 31, 2010). Report cards should be mailed
to DFG’s Fort Bragg field office and laboratory, 19160 South Harbor
Drive, Fort Bragg, CA 95437-5798. The cards can be submitted early.
Regulations also require that abalone report cards be returned even if
no abalone were taken.


####
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QUESTIONS and ANSWERS

Question:  If I am spearfishing from the shore and return with my take, do I need to have my fishing license on my person or can it be in mycar? (William H.)
 
Answer:  Persons diving from a boat or shore may have their license on the boat or within 500 yards on the shore, respectively (FGC Section7145).
 
Question:  I know a guy who was abalone diving off his kayak recently and took three nice abalone that all measured around nine inches. He wasdiving for the big abs and so was using a 9-inch gauge, but had his required 7-inch gauge in his goody bag on the kayak. When he finished up and got back to the beach with his tagged abalone and his gauges in hisgoody bag, there was a game warden waiting there who had been watching him and wrote him a ticket for using a 9-inch gauge instead of a 7-inchgauge. Why did he get a ticket? Thanks. (Tim S.)
 
Answer:  Abalone divers are required to carry a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches (Section 29.15[f]) and are required to retain any legal-sized abalone they detach and add them to their bag (Section29.15[d].) It is fine to use a gauge larger than the required 7-inch gauge to measure over-sized abalone when trophy hunting. The problem occurs when a diver detaches and brings an abalone to the surface, measures it with only a 9-inch gauge, and then rejects it for being smaller than their personal target size even though
the abalone may still be of the minimum legal size (7 inches or larger). This practice puts the diver in violation of the above sections and this practice is considered high-grading.
According to Lt. Steve Riske, to avoid this kind of ticket, divers
should not return any abalone before first measuring with a 7-inch gauge to be sure they are smaller than legal size. A 7-inch gauge should be in the immediate vicinity of where the diver surfaces (in hand, float tube or kayak) so that the abalone can be readily measured and if they then turn out to be short, the diver can then return it to the same location where originally taken. The violation occurs when divers detach and then reject legal sized abalone because they are seeking only the oversized ones.
 
Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of
Fish and Game. Her DFG-related question and answer column appears weekly at  www.dfg.ca.gov/QandA/. While she cannot personally answer everyones questions, she will select a few to answer each week.
Please contact her at cwilson@dfg.ca.gov.  You can find all of these archived Q&As posted online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/QandA/ and /or you can sign up to receive them automatically each week via the RSS feed here. We also send them out to people's e-mail addresses via our Marine Management News mail list for those who sign up at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/subscribe.asp    

 

Help! I can't read the tags

Question: Please help!!! I need reading glasses to fill out my abalone tags and so do my friends. We used to be able to fill out the cards back at the car, which was fine. But now with the new tags and regs we are required to fill out the tags as soon as we leave the water, but we can't see the fine print on the tags to fill them out! Our glasses are expensive and we have no way of bringing them with us when we dive. What can we do? Thank you. (David Gaon)

Answer: I can understand the challenges presented by small print and the difficulty you describe in trying to bring that very small print into focus without assistance. Unfortunately, there are no alternatives in the new regulations for either the diver or the game wardens - the report cards must be filled out immediately once coming ashore or boarding a boat.

The good news is that the tags and report cards are being redesigned for use next year in an effort to make them more "user friendly." Hopefully, that will include larger print!

In the meantime, you might want to consider including non-prescription reading glasses in your dive bag and/or a small magnifying glass. Either can be purchased at many convenience stores for under $15. At least with these you would not have to risk losing or breaking your prescription glasses and you will be able to comply with the regulations to legally continue taking abalone.
Question:  I am not completely clear on the amount of abalone we are
allowed to give to a family member in a day. I understand the limit is
three abalone per day and three in possession. I plan to take my
10-year-old son and my 7-year-old daughter with me. If we can bring back
nine abalone over a three-day period, and all of us are in the truck at
the same time with our abalone, would we be considered legal? It is
important that the answer you give me be consistent with the wardens on
the North Coast as they are the ones who will be issuing the ticket,
which I choose to avoid. Not only that, my kids will be with me so I
don’t want to be arrested. (Richard M., Sacramento)


 

Answer:  Rest assured, Richard, the laws on abalone are pretty clear.
Each person with a valid fishing license and a valid abalone report card
is allowed to personally take three abalone per day, have no more than
three abalone in possession, and to take no more than 24 per year. You
are authorized to gift your abalone to another person, but you may never
take more than three abalone in one day. This means that over a
three-day period, you may take three abalone per day each day as long as
you gift your abalone to another person before going back in the water
for more the next day. You must tag and record all of your abalone you
take each day on your abalone report card. The abalone must then remain
in their shells with the tags still attached until they are ready for
immediate consumption.
 
By abiding by these regulations, you will be legal. If you're stopped
along the way, the game warden will see from your report card that you
have taken three abalone per day over a three-day period (for a total of
nine). And each of your children's abalone that you have gifted them
will have your tags attached to the shells that will then correspond
back to your abalone card. 
 
Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department

 

 Fred & Mary  4/13/2008 2:45 PM >>>
Dear Sirs,
 Being the new California Regulations 2008-2009 Ocean Sport Fishing
 book no longer mentions punching out the number and the fact that the
 card isn't perforated in the upper section, I am assuming that it is no
 longer neccessary.  Is that correct?
  Also under License Information on page three it would appear that you
 have printed conflicting information.  Section 700(a) second paragraph
 still mentions 500 yards on shore to get one's license.  Is that not in error?
 Fred Cochran
 
From: Mary Patyten <mpatyten@dfg.ca.gov>
Sent: Apr 14, 2008 8:52 AM
To: Fred & Mary
Subject: Re: "Punch Card?"
 
Hello Mr. Cochran,
 
You're correct that you no longer need to "punch" anything in the upper
 portion of the abalone report card. However, Section 700(a)--which
 requires anglers to keep fishing licenses within 500 yards on shore-- is
 not in conflict with Section 29.16(a), which requires
 divers/shore-pickers to have the abalone report card in immediate
 possession. Section 700(a) refers to requirements for fishing licenses
only, whereas Section 29.16(a) refers to requirements for abalone cards alone.
 
According to Lieutenant Dennis McKiver, abalone divers/rock-pickers need to be especially careful to keep their fishing licenses (but not their
 abalone punch cards) within 500 yards of their entry point into the
 water/intertidal zone. The intent of the law is that
 anglers/divers/rock-pickers be able to show their licenses upon demand
 (refer to FGC Section 2012); 500 yards was established in law as a
 reasonable distance for people to travel to get their licenses and show
 them to wardens/peace officers if asked to do so. If your fishing license
 is more than 500 yards away from your point of entry into the
 water/intertidal zone, you may be breaking the law and could be cited.
 
Since abalone divers/rock pickers are required to have their abalone
 report cards in immediate possession, my guess is that most also keep
 their fishing license in immediate possession as well. However that's up
 to the individual. As long as your fishing license is within 500 yards of
 your entry point into the water/intertidal zone, and you have your
 abalone report card with you, you are complying with Section 700(a) and
 Section 29.16(a).
 
I hope this clarifies any misunderstanding. Please feel free to ask
further questions.
 
Mary Patyten
 
 
Mary Patyten
California Department of Fish and Game
Marine Region Education and Outreach
(707) 964-5026
 
Visit the DFG Marine Region Web site at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine

 

 

>>> Eric Anderson  3/18/2008 8:12 PM >>>
To: Lt. Dennis McKiver,

 

Greetings once again...I contacted you last week regarding authorizing of
posting your "immediate"  interpretation  of campground preparation
of  abalone....I thank you for allowing me to post your words on my page. I
have a another "immediate" question that I would like you to cast the DFG
interpretation if possible....
 
29.16 (a) All individuals including divers must have an Abalone Report Card
in their immediate possession while fishing for or taking red abalone.
 
Question...If the diver's tags are in  their own dive float (tube or board)
above the diver when he or she is submerged will that be considered
immediate possession, or must the diver try and keep the tags dry under
their suit? I will post your response to my page.
 
Thanks again,
Eric Anderson
 
(answer from Lt. Dennis McKiver)
 
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2008 14:06:58 -0700
From: "Dennis McKiver" <DMCKIVER@dfg.ca.gov>
To: "Eric Anderson" <eanderso@mcn.org>
Subject: Re: abalone laws 2008
 
That would be acceptable.  Immediate possession for our enforcement purposes means that if a warden asks the abalone fisherman to show his abalone report card the fisherman can produce the abalone report card in a reasonable amount of time without complaint.  
 
"29.16 Abalone Report Card and Tagging Requirements
(b) (1) Cardholders shall tag any red abalone either immediately upon exiting the water or
immediately upon boarding a vessel, whichever occurs first."
 
Fish and Game Code Section 2012 requires that "All licenses, license tags, ..., fish ... taken ... and any device... used to take...shall be exhibited upon demand"

 

"CCR Title 14 Section 1.74(c) General Report Card Requirements.
(1) Any person fishing for or taking any of the species identified in this Section shall have in
their possession a non-transferable report card...."

 

"29.15(h) Report Card Required: Any person fishing for or taking abalone shall have in their possession a non-transferable Abalone Report Card"

 

"29.16 Abalone Report Card and Tagging Requirements
(a) abalone Report Card Required. All individuals including divers must have an Abalone
Report Card in their immediate possession while fishing for or taking red abalone."

 

At the very least the abalone fisherman has to have the abalone report card and tags in his possession at the point where he comes out of the water, so that he can tag his abalone and complete his abalone report card as soon as he exits the water as required.  An abalone fisherman diving from a boat could leave the abalone card and tags in the boat if he is diving in the immediate vicinity of the boat, so that if a warden approached and asked to see the abalone report card the diver would be able to immediately retrieve the abalone report card from the boat.  Likewise an abalone fisherman diving with a float tube or similar device could leave the abalone report card in the float tube if he is diving in the immediate vicinity of the float tube.  An abalone fishermen diving from shore without a float tube could leave the abalone report card on shore at the location were he would be exiting the water provided he was taking abalone in the immediate vicinity of where he left the abalone report card on shore.  We do not advise this, since the valuable abalone report card could get stolen.  Also, if the abalone diver was to swim a distance off shore he may be contacted by a warden patrolling in a boat.  He may be asked to produce his fishing license and abalone report card.  If the abalone report card  is not on the abalone fisherman's person or in his float tube it may be deemed by the warden that it is not in his immediate possession.  At the very least the fisherman would be required to stop what he is doing and return to shore to get his license and abalone report card to "exhibited upon demand" as required by Fish and Game Code Section 2012.  If the fisherman does not wish to be inconvenienced in this way by a warden contacting him while he is diving for abalone, then the abalone report card should be kept on his person and immediately available at all times.

 

Section 700(a). Display of Sport Fishing license (Title 14, California Code of Regulations)
"Every person, while engaged in taking any fish, invertebrate [including mollusks and crustaceans],
amphibian, or reptile shall display their valid sport fishing license by attaching it to their
outer clothing at or above the waistline so that it is plainly visible, except when diving as provided
in Section 7145 of the Fish and Game Code."
 
Abalone "rock pickers" are not divers.  They don't take abalone while floating on the water and then diving below the surface using mask, snorkel, fins and weight belt.  Therefore, abalone rock pickers are classed as regular fishermen and must have their fishing license displayed at all times while taking abalone.   Likewise their abalone report cards and tags need to be in their immediate possession and completed as required at any point where they exit the water.  


"Dennis McKiver" <DMCKIVER@dfg.ca.gov>

 

 

Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2008 3:53 PM
Subject: Removing abalone from the shell.
 
 
Dear Sirs,
I am inquiring as to what, if any, latitude is there in the regulation of
only removing an abalone from it's shell when it is for "immediate
consumption".If, for instance, I am staying at a campsite and I dive and get abalone in the morning and am planning on having an abalone dinner that evening at my campsite.Am I in violation if I prepare the abalone in the morning in preparation for the evening meal? Must I wait until the evening before removing the abalone from it's shell and preparing it for consumption?
In short,what is the DFG's official interpretation of "IMMEDIATE"?Webster's
defines it as "at once".Also,if an abalone is to be retained for more than a couple of days,is there any suggested ways to keeping it from spoiling as it cannot be removed from the shell until it is to be consumed. One would think that freezing an abalone in the shell with the gutsack and gills attached is not a good idea.
 
 Respectfully yours,
 Lew Milligan
 
 
Dear Mr. Lew Milligan
Since there is no official definition of "Immediate" in the Fish and Game
regulations, we and the courts refer to Webster's for the definition.  You
are correct in that "Immediate" means "at once",  however, it also means
location, as in, "Don't leave the immediate area".  If you clean your
abalone at the campsite in the morning to eat them that night and you do not
transport them from the campsite, then you are not in violation of the law.
 
If you are going to keep your abalone for a period of time there is no harm
in leaving the abalone in the shell with the gut sacks intact.  That's the
way we keep them frozen when we have illegal abalone that we seize.  When we later donate them to charity they are in perfect condition.  That is also
the way the commercial abalone processors used to keep them.  Think of it,
they are already pre-wrapped against freezer burn.  Keeping the gut sack in
an abalone causes no ill effects.  In fact that is the way most commercial
fish is kept.  If you absolutely feel the need to remove it, then it is
possible to remove the gut sack without removing the abalone from the shell.
I however, find it much better to leave the gut sack in my frozen abalone.
 
Dennis McKiver
Enforcement Lieutenant (dfg.ca.cal)
 
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   The below High-Grading article was provided by Game Warden Donald Powers and Marine Biologist Jerry Kashiwada....

A diver already has taken his third abalone for the day.  While waiting for his buddy to finish, he finds an abalone he believes is larger than the abalone he took.  What he does next will impact the local abalone population.  Ethically, morally and legally the proper action is to leave the abalone for another day.  The diver may chose to take the larger abalone and return one of his smaller but still legal sized abalone in the mistaken belief that no harm is being done. In doing so, he will not only violate a number of laws, he will probably increase the number of abalone he killed by 33%.  By law, any abalone taken over seven inches is counted toward an individual’s daily bag limit of three abalone, and the individual must stop detaching abalone once the bag limit is reached. This act of “high-grading” abalone is a significant problem that leads to the needless mortality of large adult abalone and negatively impacts abalone populations. 

Divers should not be fooled by the abundance of abalone into believing that abalone are unlimited and the resource cannot be harmed by minor violations of the law.  Similar thoughts were once common throughout the state but now only northern California has abalone in numbers which can support a recreational fishery.  One difference between northern California and the rest of the state is a set of conservative regulations which has limited the numbers of abalone taken each year.  The regulations were written with regard to biological limitations of abalone which increase their vulnerability to fishing pressure.  Violations of the regulations increase the numbers of abalone that die each year and jeopardize the health of the fishery. 

 

Northern California red abalone have the same biological constraints that have lead to the depletion of abalone populations around the world.  One factor which makes abalone vulnerable to fishing pressure is that they often incur mortal wounds when they are pried off the rocks.  Abalone which are cut while being removed often bleed to death because their blood has no clotting factors.  Deep cuts can go unnoticed because abalone blood is nearly colorless and their weak circulatory system pumps low volumes of blood.  Even abalone which are not cut can die from predation if they are returned to a habitat (sand, cobble, or algae-covered rocks) which does not allow them to securely clamp down.  In regards to fishery impacts on abalone populations, the safest practice is to be sure an abalone is legal size before removing it and to stop fishing after removing three abalone.  Any departure from this practice will likely increase abalone mortality and waste an extremely valuable resource.

 

An estimated 264,000 abalone were taken during the 2006 season.  This estimate is considered a minimum number because it is based partly on returned abalone cards and not every abalone taken is marked on cards.  The actual number of abalone killed by the fishery is also increased because of fatal injuries to abalone which are returned as being under-sized or being “high-graded.”  Both sources of additional mortality can be and should be avoided because the number of abalone taken is already high.

 

High abalone densities are vital in maintaining abalone populations.  Abalone are broadcast spawners that release eggs and sperm into the water.  When abalone density is low, fertilization is less likely to be successful and reproduction can fail.  Each abalone which dies as a result of “high grading” reduces the density of reproducing abalone and lowers the chances of eggs becoming fertilized.  “High grading” also mainly involves larger abalone which tend to produce more eggs or sperm than smaller ones and are more valuable in maintaining population levels.

 

Trophy abalone hunters generally search for abalone with shells measuring over ten inches in total length.  Individuals who illegally “high-grade” abalone while trophy diving replace abalone (usually abalone just under 10”) they have removed from the rocks for larger trophy abalone.  Often individuals who are “high-grading” abalone remove several abalone over their limit from the rocks while only retaining three of the largest ones.  As a result, large breeding abalone not retained as a part of an individual’s daily bag limit, needlessly die.

 

The search for trophy abalone is often driven by an individual’s need to show they are an accomplished diver.  The dive community can help protect abalone populations by insisting that divers earn their status by strictly following all laws.  Several techniques can be used to help divers stay legal.  First, know and obey the laws pertaining to abalone.  Use a large gauge to measure abalone while they are attached to rocks.  By measuring an abalone before you pry it off you can ensure it is the trophy you are looking for.  Use a dive line to mark abalone you are gauging or planning to take.  This ensures that you can measure the abalone and pry it off the rock on several dives if needed without the fear of losing it.  

 

The practice of “high-grading” abalone is a large problem that adversely affects the abalone fishery.  Individuals who “high-grade” abalone essentially create the same problem as that of a large scale poaching operation as they significantly increase mortality of breeding abalone along the north coast.  It may not seem as blatant of a violation but the result is the same - the reduced reproductive capacity of local abalone populations.

 FOR THOSE WHO WITNESS THE ILLEGAL PRACTICE OF HIGH GRADING OR ANY OTHER VIOLATION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE LAW, PLEASE CALL DFG’s 24-HR DISPATCH CENTER 1-888-DFG-CALTip.

Don Powers

State Game Warden

 

Jerry Kashiwada

Associate Marine Biologist, Marine Region Invertebrate Management Project

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Below are the new abalone regulations for 2008. Just click on the link and see the changes. Also, there is a great video that shows the new process of tagging the abalone on this link.
 

http://www.dfg.ca.gov/education/video/AbaloneRegulations.html

 
 

      (answers at the bottom of scallop page)  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 REAL ABALONE DIVERS DO NOT HIGH-GRADE....IT IS AGAINST THE LAW AND IT TAINTS THE SPORT.