Posted on Categories Sonoma Coast, WildlifeTags , , Leave a comment on State considers locally based regulations for recreational red abalone

State considers locally based regulations for recreational red abalone

Samantha Kimmey, POINT REYES LIGHT
Regulations for recreational red abalone diving have been mostly uniform along the Northern California coast for a decade, but the state is now considering changes to allow more locally specific rules.
Through an online survey, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking divers for input about how the red abalone fishery should be managed. The department says tightening rules about when and where divers can fish could increase the likelihood of catching more abalone, while expanding diving opportunities could make it more difficult to find the mollusk. Changes could include stricter rules at some sites and more lax rules at others, based on local populations. But finely tuned regulations would also be more expensive to enforce, likely costing divers more in fees.
The survey responses and comments from public meetings held last fall will inform a forthcoming fishery management plan for red abalone, a brick red to pink-shelled mollusk that is the largest of all abalone species. (The world record is around 12.3 inches long.)
Rules for red abalone diving —such as a ban on scuba gear, annual and daily catch limits and seasonal closures—have been dictated by the state’s Abalone Recovery and Management Plan. The decade-old document outlines management and recovery efforts for all species; two kinds, white and black abalone, are endangered. But the department is developing a specific plan for red abalone, which is the only one with a robust enough population for a recreational fishery.
In California, red abalone can only be fished north of the San Francisco Bay. Divers are subject to a number of regulations; for instance, they must carry a measuring device on them while diving, so they don’t take abalone under seven inches.
Of the roughly 256,000 taken legally every year along the Northern California coast, most—about 95 percent—comes from Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. There isn’t as much easy public access in Marin, and one avid diver from Point Reyes Station, Billy Wessner, said sedimentation in the county’s waters also makes the mollusk even more difficult to find. Still, over 3,000 are taken from Marin every year, according to state figures.
“There’s still plenty here. It’s alive and well,” Mr. Wessner said.
A combination of overfishing, bad management, disease and predation spurred a massive decline of abalone stocks in the 20th century. And abalone are slow growers: it can take a decade or more for one to reach seven inches in diameter, the minimum size divers can take, making recovery a slow process.
Read more via State considers locally based regulations for recreational red abalone | The Point Reyes Light.

Posted on Categories Sonoma Coast, WildlifeTags , , , , Leave a comment on Bodega Bay lab at forefront of effort to save rare abalone species

Bodega Bay lab at forefront of effort to save rare abalone species

The stacks of white, water-filled troughs in a small building at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory offer a bright spot in a landscape of often-grim news about California’s marine environment.
Roughly 2,000 tiny white abalone almost a year into life here represent the promise that an all-but-extinct sea mollusk might survive.

The product of a 4-year-old program that began with 18 wild white abalone plucked from the ocean depths near the Channel Islands 15 years ago, these small shellfish — from pencil-point- to almond-sized — are proof that captive breeding can work. Already, descendant abalone produced over three spawning seasons in affiliated science labs across the state are nearly equal in number to those believed to remain in the wild, where they are scattered so widely they no longer reproduce.

But with greater success in the lab each season, and a new round of spawning planned in early March, scientists in the program say they are just a few years away from beginning to test the survival of the young abalone out at sea, in hopes of eventually restoring some portion of the wild population.

“We may not bring it back anywhere close to what it was,” said Gary Cherr, director of the Bodega Marine Lab and principal investigator for the white abalone captive breeding program. “But if we can establish some self-sustaining populations up and down the coast … that would be a first. That would be really remarkable.”

Read more via Bodega Bay lab at forefront of effort to | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sonoma Coast, WildlifeTags , Leave a comment on New ocean study shows alarming pattern in ice age oxygen loss

New ocean study shows alarming pattern in ice age oxygen loss

New research on sea floor core samples collected from across the planet shows oxygen levels in the world’s oceans plummeted as the last ice age came to an end, a discovery that sheds light on the speed and extent to which modern-day climate change could alter global marine environments with potentially staggering results.
The study, made public this week by UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, suggests expansive low-oxygen zones that characterized world oceans during a period of melting ice sheets 10,000 to 17,000 years ago could be predictive of a trend already underway, potentially leading to mass die-offs of marine species and drastically disrupted food systems.
“The potential for our oceans to look very, very different in 100 to 150 years is real,” lead researcher Sarah Moffitt, a postdoctoral scholar at the marine lab, said in a statement unveiling the work.
The study was based on analyses of 36 sedimentary cores drilled from sites along the continental edges in the Pacific and Indian oceans. The meters-long plugs of sediment serve as records of geochemical and biological changes within ocean layers.
They revealed extreme, rapid oxygen loss in every region, occurring in some cases over 100 years or less but persisting for thousands of years, Moffitt said.
As with the current period of climate change, the deglaciation period was a time of increasing temperatures, surging levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and rising sea levels, Moffitt said.
Read more via New ocean study shows alarming pattern in ice | The Press Democrat.