California sets stricter limits on abalone

Citing poor environmental conditions affecting the Northern California red abalone fishery, the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to reduce the annual limit on the recreational fishery from 18 to 12 per diver.
The move follows recommendations from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to reduce the annual abalone take by about 24 percent. The agency and many divers have been at odds as to the best way to respond to underwater surveys that show the abalone population facing starvation due to kelp forest decline. Researchers also found that abalones are not reproducing at sustainable rates, partly because of warm ocean temperatures.
“We’re concerned that these warm water conditions that caused or partly caused these situations may persist next year,” Sonke Mastrup, environmental program manager of the invertebrate program at Fish and Wildlife, said at the meeting, which took place in San Diego.
The new limits, which will go into effect in 2017, follow a previous reduction in 2014 that changed the annual limit from 24 to 18, based on rules in the state’s Abalone Recovery and Management Plan.
About 95 percent of diving takes place in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, bringing in an estimated $44 million a year in tourism revenue, according to an analysis done by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Read more at: California sets stricter limits on abalone