Abalone season will open on Friday, April 1 along the North Coast from the San Francisco Bay north. New regulations effective in 2014 closed parts of Fort Ross State Historical Park to the take of abalone.
2016 regulations for breath-hold divers:
Season and times: The season runs from April 1 through November, excluding the month of July. Diving is legal from 8 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset.
What you’ll need:
1) Fishing license. (Not required for 15 years old and younger.)
2) Abalone report card, which costs $22.42. (Must be in your possession while diving. Also required for those 15 years or younger.)
3) Fixed caliper measuring device.
Limit and size restrictions: Three per day, three in possession and no more than 18 per year. Only nine may be taken from Sonoma and Marin counties. Must be 7 inches or larger. You must keep any legal abalone you pull from a rock and if it is not legal, you must stick it back on the same rock from where it came. Only your hand or a legal abalone iron can be used to pry them from the rocks.
As soon as you get out of the water or step foot in a boat, you must tag your abalone. The tag needs to go through the siphon holes and held together with some type of string or zip tie. The shell cannot be removed until preparation begins for cooking or eating.
Low numbers of ocean salmon raise specter of no commercial fishing in 2016
More bad news for California commercial fishermen was announced this week with a low abundance of ocean salmon likely to spell severely limited commercial seasons this year.
The heavily-restricted salmon season options released by federal fishery managers this week comes just ahead of a Fishermen’s Benefit Dance planned for Saturday in Crescent City Harbor to aid fishermen already struggling from this year’s unprecedented Dungeness crab closure.
Experts say warming ocean waters from El Nino as well as climate change produced a giant toxic algal bloom that spoiled California’s crab fishery and has also impacted ocean salmon stocks. Salmon fisheries have also taken a hard hit competing for scarce water resources during California’s drought. Only three percent of juvenile winter-run Sacramento Chinook salmon are believed to have survived migrating to the ocean last year due to the drought.
None of the options for the Klamath Management Zone (north of the Humboldt South Jetty to Oregon border) have any commercial salmon fishing from May through August.
Recreational salmon fishing options in the KMZ are much more liberal generally opening in May and running through Labor Day, although every alternative includes closed periods to reduce impacts to the beleaguered Klamath stocks.
“California’s salmon fishermen will unfortunately face further devastating losses and significant economic hardship this year, worsened by the constant push to divert more water from the Bay-Delta estuary,” said Huffman in a statement released Tuesday. “Yesterday’s announcement confirms that this is not the time for Congress to weaken protections for salmon and their ecosystems. Unless we begin enacting both short and long-term solutions to our drought challenges, salmon fishermen will continue to pay the price.”
What is in-store for the 2016 ocean Salmon Season?
Not sure yet, but there is a lot of concern over the persistent drought in the Klamath and Sacramento Rivers, El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean and lower than expected returns of Chinook and Coho salmon last year.
Outlined below is the process and how you can be involved in the decision making.
Salmon Preseason Process: Calendar of Events and Contact Information
2016 California ocean salmon sport and commercial fishing regulations have not yet been determined. Fishery regulations that take effect in April for the area south of Horse Mountain will be finalized at the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) and California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) meetings in March. Regulations in effect on or after May 1, 2016 will be adopted at the PFMC and FGC meetings in April.
March 9-14, 2016
PFMC March Meeting
DoubleTree by Hilton Sacramento, 2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, CA 95815
The Council will determine if any in-season action for fisheries scheduled to open in April is needed. They will also adopt three regulatory alternatives for ocean salmon fisheries in effect on or after May 1. Final alternatives for public review will be decided on March 14. Preseason Report II: Proposed Alternatives and Environmental Assessment Part 2 for 2016 Ocean Salmon Fishery Regulations will be available online March 22, 2016 at:www.pcouncil.org.
March 15, 2016
California FGC Meeting – Teleconference
Commission Conference Room 1320, 1416 9th St., Sacramento, CA 95814 Proposed changes to Ocean Salmon Sport Fishing Regulations for 2016 will be addressed at this meeting. The Commission will take final action on Ocean Salmon Sport Fishery Regulations in effect during April 2016. The public may address and/or ask questions of the Commission relating to the implementation of its policies or any other matter within the jurisdiction of the Commission. Agenda and audio available online at: www.fgc.ca.gov.
March 29, 2016 (7:00 p.m.)
PFMC Public Hearing – California
Motel 6 Convention Room, 400 S. Main St., Fort Bragg, CA 95437
The Council will receive comments from the public on the three California ocean salmon fishery management regulatory alternatives adopted by the Council in March. More information is available at: www.pcouncil.org.
April 9-14, 2016
PFMC April Meeting
Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth Street, Vancouver, WA 98660
The Council will tentatively adopt final regulatory measures for analysis by the STT during this meeting. Final adoption of recommendations to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is scheduled to be completed by April 13. Preseason Report III: Analysis of Council-Adopted Management Measures and Environmental Assessment Part 3 for 2016 Ocean Salmon Fishery Regulations will be available online April 22, 2016 at: www.pcouncil.org.
April 18, 2016
California FGC Meeting – Teleconference
Commission Conference Room 1320, 1416 9th St., Sacramento, CA 95814
The Commission will take final action on Ocean Salmon Sport Fishery Regulations in effect on or after May 1, 2016. The public may address and/or ask questions of the Commission relating to the implementation of its policies or any other matter within the jurisdiction of the Commission. Agenda and audio available online at: www.fgc.ca.gov.
Here is an update from Ben Platt on the salmon, albacore and crab fishermen Facebook page.
“So there was a conference call hosted by PCFFA’s Tim Sloane for us to try to get some answers from DFW, some insight from the Washington domoic acid closures, and to brainstorm with crabbers from all the California ports about how to get some positive PR before we reopen. Here’s the highlights:
As expected, nothing really new from DFW. We still do not know how much of the DCTF’s recommendations regarding testing protocols and reopening will be adopted. However, Tom Barnes and Pete Kalvass of DFW told us they would prefer to have a statewide opener as recommended, with the caveat that the regs simply allow the Director to reopen the fishery when it is deemed safe to eat the crabs, so there are no guarantees he will follow the DCTF’s wisdom.
In the short term, we know that retesting is supposed to happen in Monterey Bay and the Morro Bay area this week and boats will be sent out of HMB, SF, Bodega Bay and Crescent City between the 16-18th next week, weather permitting.
If the original plan is followed, there will be bi-weekly testing until an average DA count of 60ppm is achieved statewide, then it will go to weekly testing until all areas are clean of DA, then another clean test a week later to confirm it; at which point the recreational season will open with the commercial season opening 7 days later.
And it was clarified that only one lab in the state is approved by the Department of Public Health to do the lab work so tests can take anywhere from 3 days to a week to get results.
There was a presentation by Dan Ayers of Washington who is a top researcher on domoic acid in the crab fishery. Among other things, he said that it took about 4 months for the DA to clear out of the crabs last summer in WA, from the first high test result in early June until the end of September. Also of note: water quality does not seem to play a roll, what crabs are feeding on determines how much DA accumulates in their viscera.
Pete Kalvass of DFW said that they are monitoring the size and area covered by the algae bloom which is producing the neurotoxin, and that the bloom is now dissipating in our coastal waters.
It was re-emphasized to the state reps that we are uniformly opposed to a piecemeal reopening of the recreational season. It was pointed out that the crabs migrate and a “clean area” could easily be inundated by “dirty” crabs. And one sick civilian would be disastrous for all of us. Also the potential for thousands of sport boats crowding into an area like Monterey Bay where the commercial boats might not be able to set gear for months could result in a complete wipeout.
There were questions about potential disaster relief, and Tom Weseloh, our state legislative liaison, said that since it currently just a delay there is no way to predict if it will qualify as a disaster. He did say that if it became a season closure, financial aid would be a definite possibility and could be retroactive. In the meantime, he thought that unemployment benefits might be available but there is no guarantee that EDD would agree.
There will be a meeting of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture at the Steele Lane Community Center in Santa Rosa on Dec. 3 from 3-6 pm where many of the issues related to the DA crisis will be discussed. The public is welcome to attend.
The rest of the meeting was devoted to a discussion among the fishermen of potential PR we can do to mitigate the disastrous media coverage to date and to try and restore consumer confidence before we start putting crab on the market.
Tim Sloane (PCFFA) and Larry Collins (Crab Boat Owners, SF) have contacted several firms who are interested in helping us. The buy-in is about $5,000 for a short term campaign. By tomorrow we should have some ideas pitched to us by at least one outfit in SF.
All the ports agreed to pitch in $500 apiece to get this rolling. Donations can be mailed to:
PCFFA/ Crab PR Fund
SF, CA 94129
A committee was formed to organize a crab feed/media event at Fishermen’s Wharf in SF a few days before our season opens to show the public that the crabs are good to go and to get the media to give us some badly needed positive coverage.
The California Fish and Game Commission today voted 3-0 in favor of an emergency rulemaking to prohibit recreational take and possession of Dungeness crab and all rock crab from ocean waters, including bays and estuaries, north of the Ventura/Santa Barbara county line. Closure of the fisheries shall remain in effect until the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and no longer recommends the fisheries be closed.
The Commission also directed the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to maintain a list of closed ocean waters of the state and update that list on Wednesday of each week by 1 p.m. It shall be the responsibility of any person prior to taking Dungeness crab to call the department’s hotline (831) 649-2883 or visit the department’s website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/health-advisories to obtain the current status of any ocean water.
The recreational Dungeness crab season was scheduled to start Saturday, Nov. 7
CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September and results from the most recent tests showed that the health risk to humans is significant. CDPH issued a health advisory on Tuesday. OEHHA followed that with a recommendation for delays and closures.
CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened.
Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, epilepsy, and can in some cases be fatal.
Domoic acid is produced from some species of the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia. Currently, a massive toxic bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia has developed, significantly impacting marine life along California’s coast. Biologists tested crab from eight ports from Morro Bay to Crescent City, and determined that domoic acid levels are exceeding the State’s action level.
Algal blooms are common, but this one is particularly large and persistent. Warmer ocean water temperatures due to the El Niño event California is experiencing are likely the cause of the size and persistence of this bloom.
Commercial fisheries are also affected by domoic acid levels. CDFW has authority to delay or otherwise restrict commercial fisheries and is developing an emergency rulemaking under that authority. The commercial Dungeness crab season is currently scheduled to open Nov. 15.
7-10-15 The flat ocean conditions enticed us down to the rockfish grounds again today where we had 15 Ling Cod and limits of rockfish. The Halibut seem to be biting pretty good for those that are fishing for them and the salmon bite has slowed again. Lots of warm water all over the place but no reports of tuna closer than 80 miles or so. Let’s hope they are on their way here. The Bay has more anchovies now than I have seen in several years.