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 visit www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/ncc_recommendations.asp.
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 visit www.fgc.ca.gov.
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 www.dfg.ca.gov/education/video/AbaloneRegulations.html.
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 www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/sportfishing_regs2009.asp.
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.