Main Menu
Join Undercurrent on Facebook

The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975 | |
For Divers since 1975
The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
"Best of the Web: scuba tips no other
source dares to publish" -- Forbes
January 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 45, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
What's this?

No Abalone Diving in California Until at Least 2021

from the January, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

It's more bad news for California's abalone divers: Already having missed a whole season in 2018, they won't be able to go again for at least two more years. Last month, the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) decided to keep the state's recreational abalone fishery closed through April 2021 to give the shellfish population a chance to bounce back. They based the decision on low density surveys from key sites along the North Coast.

The season is usually open from April to November for recreational diving north of San Francisco, but has been limited in recent years and was closed completely last year. The trouble really began with the El Niño of 2014-16, which sparked extreme environmental conditions for coastal environments: a massive kelp die-off and exploding numbers of purple sea urchins, which compete with abalone to eat the bull kelp left the slow-growing sea snails starving and not reproducing. Last year, the CFGC changed the rules to allow recreational divers to take up to 20 gallons of purple sea urchins a day from the waters off Sonoma and Mendocino Counties to see if that would help in the recovery of the bull kelp and abalone. (In one case, experienced divers used a vacuum device to suck the creatures from the ocean floor.)

A group of avid abalone divers has generally expressed support for the continued closure, but some have asked that a small number be allowed to fish to continue collecting data -- and to keep the sport alive. Lifelong abalone diver, Steve Rebuck of San Luis Obispo, criticizes the CFGC for not taking more action sooner, like when the abalone density surveys indicated that the population was dropping in 2012, partly due to an algal bloom that killed a lot of them the year before. "It was clear it was a problem," Rebuck told the San Francisco Chronicle. "The department didn't really address it correctly, in my opinion. They wanted to keep the fishery open."

Abalone were once so abundant, San Franciscans plucked them from tide pools and cooked them on the beach. Overfishing caused the state to stop commercial fishing in 1997 and to allow only recreational fishing of the shellfish, and only north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Red abalone is the only species that can be fished now.

Abalone divers have been commiserating in Facebook groups about the continued closure of the wild fishery. A Sebastopol diver recently posted: "I am just an old abalone diver who is dreaming of getting some more abs before I die." Who knows when -- or if -- that will ever happen, as it's probably safe to say that Northern California abalone populations will never be as abundant as they once were.

I want to get all the stories! Tell me how I can become an Undercurrent Online Member and get online access to all the articles of Undercurrent as well as thousands of first hand reports on dive operations world-wide

Find in  

| Home | Online Members Area | My Account | Login | Join |
| Travel Index | Dive Resort & Liveaboard Reviews | Featured Reports | Recent Issues | Back Issues |
| Dive Gear Index | Health/Safety Index | Environment & Misc. Index | Seasonal Planner | Blogs | Free Articles | Book Picks | News |
| Special Offers | RSS | FAQ | About Us | Contact Us | Links |

Copyright © 1996-2024 Undercurrent (
3020 Bridgeway, Ste 102, Sausalito, Ca 94965
All rights reserved.