Abalone Season Sliced Short

red abalone from CDFW

Red abalone

Press release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Regulations for California’s popular red abalone sport fishery have changed in 2017. Due to concerns about the declining population, the season will be shortened and the take limit reduced.

The 2017 season will be shortened by two months, with the traditional opening date of April 1 now delayed until May 1. The fishery will also close a month earlier than usual, on Oct. 31.

The annual (calendar year) limit is changing from 18 abalone to 12. As in the past, no more than nine abalone may be taken south of the boundary between Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

The red abalone catch is being reduced because surveys conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) found that red abalone populations in deeper waters are on the decline due to unfavorable environmental conditions. Over the past three years, growth of kelp — a major food source for abalone – has declined significantly. Dramatic increases in purple sea urchin populations have further reduced the food available for abalone. Details can be found at https://cdfwmarine.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/perfect-storm-decimates-kelp/.

Other regulations relative to abalone remain unchanged. Fishing for abalone will be allowed from 8 a.m. to one half-hour after sunset in waters north of San Francisco Bay. People may travel to fishing locations before 8 a.m. but may not actively search for or take any abalone before that time. The daily bag and possession limit remains at three. Parts of Fort Ross State Historical Park remain closed to the take of abalone. A map of the closed area can be found online at http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=42101&inline=true.

Northern California’s recreational red abalone fishery is enjoyed by tens of thousands of divers along the Sonoma and Mendocino coast. A recent CDFW study estimated that approximately 31,000 abalone divers derived between $24 million and $44 million per year of recreational value from the fishery. The value of this fishery declined nearly $12 million after stricter regulations were imposed in 2014 following a harmful algal bloom that killed thousands of abalone in Sonoma County. Information about the study can be found at http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=136510.

The changes to the abalone regulations were approved by the Fish and Game Commission at their Dec. 7 meeting, under emergency rulemaking provisions that allow fast-tracking of the approval process when there is an urgent need for regulatory change.



  • Thanks Liberals

    • Liberals created the “unfavorable environmental conditions” that caused the decline of red abalone? You may as well thank truck drivers, baseball players, and pole dancers, too, since they had the same effect on the environmental conditions as liberals.

    • Actually CDFW compromises between what good science show should be policy, and what conservatives want.

  • Be safe and always remember NEVER DIVE ALONE!

  • Get us the info on the newest surveys.. get us the numbers.. the graphs.. the geographical locations of the studies….

  • further, more in depth, information may be found on Humboldt Skindivers Facebook page… https://www.facebook.com/groups/180674617714/ what took place recently.. you’ll have to scroll down for the posts and news articles….there is a real story here on the oversight of the DFG.. who makes the rules and how… many of us sport divers disagree with the validity of the science involved in their study.. we dispute their numbers and we demand more transparency of the studies and who does them.

  • Maybe the HMongs can start stripping the oceans of sea urchins instead of abalone, muscles, clams and any other objects they find

  • the ocean is more diverse than the population fluctuations city to city through out the USA… it’s like calling something a national disaster when there is a problem in detroit .. but they’re gonna regulate the entire midwest because of what’s going on in Detroit… that kelp die off isn’t as valid as your think.. every year it grows back.. more in some places and less in others.. I scuba dive and have seen first hand what different areas look like in the Mendocino area.. true that some areas have some kelp die off.. but it doesn’t justify their new regulations… the problems is there isn’t enough resistance to dispute what they are doing… sadly a time will come when abalone will no longer be able to be legally taken by sport divers. this is the middle of the end… smarter people would know that a larger minimum size of 8 inches would do more for the populations than cutting off 2 months of a season and reducing take by 25%… they wanted a 25% reduction… for whatever their reasons… and proposed a 50% reduction… but met resistance and somehow instead of 9 being the yearly bag limit.. 12 was the magic number.. but we lost April… they could have just closed the season in September.. but opted to gut it where and how they wanted… with promises that in a year or two they will deregulate it if the numbers improve… but they are controlling the science of the numbers… someone please point me to some current PDF gov. files that show their survey info and science behind their solution…

    • Larger minimums sizes would actully hurt the population. The regulations being based on minimum size are not based on good sciences. Larger abalone are much more fecund than smaller abalone. Population demographic studies show that changing regulations to a smaller maximum size and much smaller minimum size would dramatically help the population. Unfortunately the CDFW is an organization that compromises between science and public opinion to the point of harming ecosystems.

  • James,
    A long time ago I read Two Years Before the Mast, the story of a man from the East Coast who signed onto a ship which came to ‘California’ (it was then part of Mexico) to work in the hide trade. It’s a great story and factual as well.
    I recently came across an edition of the book which included an account of the trip the writer took to California in 1859 where he tells of all the changes that had come about in the years between.
    What struck me was the part where he took a ship from San Francisco south, and what he observed:
    “Point Conception! That word was enough to recall all our experiences and dreads of gales, swept decks, topmast carried away and the hardships of a coast service in the winter. But Captain Wilson tells me that the climate has altered; that the southeasters are no longer the bane of the coast they once were, and that vessels now anchor inside the kept at Santa Barbara and San Pedro all year round.”

    So long before man had any real influence on the weather or what effects kelp beds and such, from 1835 to 1859, things had changed that much.
    What had allowed the kelp beds to grow so much and the weather to change so that such a thing was possible?
    Since there weren’t scientists in California asking questions at the time, we won’t know. But we do know there was a major change. I’d still like to know why and if anyone else has paid attention to that change.
    Good luck trying to find more details or other pertinent studies on the abalone situation (that’s not a snide comment, I mean it sincerely.

    • Sounds like an interesting read… thanks for dropping a book 🙂 yeah.. I tried to research data on their reports.. maybe idk where to look.. but could only google up reports more than 10 years old… all this regulation points to what’s already printed from news articles… which are historic now… nothing new.. no official study or truly investigative report.. Guess I need to learn where to find these new reports and research their methodology.

      • Mmmmm...... fresh abalone......

        The articles I’ve read about this have mostly been from the perspective of being mainly about the starfish die-off. Turns out in many places the lack of starfish has let the population of urchins explode, which have stripped places of much of the kelp, which led to the slower moving abalone starving. The information links led to ones from the parks, I think, so try there.

  • Did anyone look at the bay by Russian Gulch?[ mendo ] last year absolutly no kelp fellahs, the abalone were starving, climbing out on the beach looking for food, you can blame the dfg for all you want but if there is no food no abalone…. facts are facts. abalone are like the buffalo, youll gleefully kill the last one, just to say you did, and blame someone for not protecting them. You can live w/ out abalone….. back off and give them a rest

  • Their may be a shortage.their declining in numbers for sure.sad

  • There was a place I use to dive for ab just south of smugglers cove.There use to be no kelp for about three hunderd yards .an tens of thousands of urchins.This was mid ninties.Then there was a market boom for urchin roe from japan .They where harvested by the ton because there was no regulation on them.Locals where making big bucks on the roe. In less two yearsThe kelp recoverd you could not swim through this area without getting hung up in the kelp abs where every where.

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