The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director’s Recreational Abalone Advisory Committee (RAAC) will be holding a public meeting to discuss proposed regulation changes relative to the recreational red abalone fishery for 2017.
The meeting will be held Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Marin-Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District Boardroom, 595 Helman Lane, Cotati (94931).
The emergency rulemaking proposal is being drafted by CDFW in response to adverse environmental conditions. The changes outlined in the proposal are intended to reduce pressure on the fishery under the guidance of the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan.
Fishery constituents and interested members of the public are encouraged to attend and provide comment.
Persons with disabilities needing reasonable accommodation to participate in public meetings or other CDFW activities are invited to contact CDFW’s Accessibility Coordinator Melissa Carlin at (916) 651-1214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two Southern California men have been convicted and fined for abalone poaching and other resource crimes, stemming from a September 2015 California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) enforcement case.
CDFW wildlife officers assigned to the patrol boat Thresher discovered the two men poaching abalone at Catalina Island. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office subsequently prosecuted both individuals.
Hee Won Chai, 75, of Los Angeles was charged with taking and possessing six pink abalone. Chai pleaded no contest to all six poaching counts. He was ordered by the court to pay $61,626 in fines and penalties, and $1,000 to the CDFW Preservation Fund. Additionally all of his SCUBA equipment was forfeited by the court and his fishing privileges permanently revoked.
Jin Chai Jeong, 58, of Garden Grove was charged with taking and possessing two pink abalone, three green abalone and four spiny lobsters out of season, as well as attempting to destroy evidence. Jeong pleaded no contest to all of the abalone and lobster charges. He was also ordered by the court to pay $61,626 in fines and penalties and $1,000 to the CDFW Preservation Fund, and his SCUBA gear was forfeited by the court and his fishing privileges permanently revoked.
“An extraordinary amount of time and effort is invested in helping the Southern California abalone populations rebound, including the sacrifice of honest abalone harvesters who cannot currently fish for abalone south of San Francisco,” said CDFW Law Enforcement Asst. Chief Mike Stefanak. “Years ago, abalone poaching laws were significantly strengthened as part of the overall recovery plan to protect California’s abalone populations, but even so, we’ve seen an increase in poaching crimes. Once we find the offenders, we rely on the diligence of the District Attorneys’ offices and the courts to ensure that justice is served. Successful prosecutions such as these will hopefully serve as a deterrent for anyone considering committing these crimes against the environment.”
All of California’s abalone species are struggling, including two that are federally listed as endangered. Disease, predation, slow reproduction and poaching have necessitated a moratorium on abalone harvest south of San Francisco Bay since 1997. Red abalone populations north of San Francisco are the only populations stable enough to support very limited recreational harvest.
Anyone who believes they are witness to unlawful hunting, fishing or pollution is encouraged to call CalTIP, CDFW’s confidential secret witness program, at (888) 334-2258 or send a text to tip411. Both methods allow the public to provide wildlife officers with factual information to assist with investigations. Callers may remain anonymous, if desired, and a reward can result from successful capture and prosecution.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is currently working on a Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the North Coast Recreational Red Abalone Fishery. As part of CDFW’s efforts to encourage public participation in the plan development process, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and CDFW will jointly conduct a workshop on the topic. TNC is providing financial support for the event.
Fishery scientists, citizen scientists, anglers and managers attending the workshop will discuss options for developing a control rule to manage the recreational red abalone fishery. Invited speakers will describe the use of control rules and available options for integrating abalone size measurements into a comprehensive framework for decision-making.
Fishing for abalone is allowed from 8 a.m to one half hour after sunset. People may travel to fishing locations before 8 a.m. but may not actively search for or take any abalone before that time. The annual limit is 18, but only a total of nine can be taken from Sonoma and Marin counties.
The return deadline is Jan. 31, 2017 but cards can be submitted early. Abalone report cards must be returned even if no abalone were taken or no attempt was made to take abalone.
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. Similar to rockfish, abalone are a long-lived species but have generally low rates of reproduction. The fishery is managed conservatively to ensure a healthy fishery for generations to come.
In recent years, the red abalone fishery has come under some stress due to unfavorable ocean conditions. In 2011, a red tide caused a die-off of abalone and other invertebrates primarily in Sonoma County. Abalone feed on kelp but the warm water conditions the past two years have greatly reduced kelp growth which has resulted in noticeably leaner abalone. Great increases in purple urchin populations have reduced the amount of food and habitat available for abalone and could slow the recovery of kelp beds.
Abalone divers can help state biologists assess the ever-changing conditions that influence the abalone fishery. This year, a program will be established to allow divers to report observations that may help ongoing management. CDFW plans to kick off the new observer program later this spring.
Currently, the only ongoing abalone fishery in California is in the northern region of the state, which has remained productive for nearly 60 years. In 2014, the most recent year numbers are available, the catch estimated from returned abalone report cards and telephone surveys was 148,000 abalone. The average catch over the past five years has been about 210,000 abalone annually.
Media Contacts: Jerry Kashiwada, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 964-5791
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is requesting nominations to fill two vacant representative positions on the Recreational Abalone Advisory Committee (RAAC).
The purpose of the RAAC is to make recommendations to CDFW’s Director for projects and budgets for the expenditure of funds from the Abalone Restoration and Preservation Account.
The RAAC consists of nine members: two representatives from each of three coastal regions (south, central and north), two science experts and one enforcement representative.
CDFW is accepting nominations for the north and south coastal representative positions through March 4, 2016. Nominees must reside within established geographic boundaries for the respective regions. Nominees for the north region must reside north of the southern boundary line of Marin County extending due east, and nominees for the south region must reside south of the Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo County line extending due east.
Nominations may come from any individual or member of an organization involved in the recreational abalone fishery. To nominate a representative for either of these two seats, please send a nomination letter to:
Ian Taniguchi, Marine Region Senior Abalone Scientist
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
4665 Lampson Ave., Ste. C
Los Alamitos, CA 90720
Letters may also be sent via email to email@example.com. Nomination letters should include the nominee’s current residence and contact information, as well as a brief description of the nominee’s experience in the abalone fishery.