Update on Abalone Closure
By: Josh Russo
[Editors note: Josh has been President of Watermen’s Alliance, and has been organizing the Purple Urchin Removal Events, for which DL Poppelwell acts as Point of Contact within Aqua Tutus. Josh will be speaking to our club in July. We received this email in February.]
I want to share a little bit of hope with you. Since the vote for closure of the abalone fishery in December of 2017 Watermen’s Alliance has been pushing the department to consider a de minimis fishery. What that would do is to allow a certain level of take under heavy restriction. Recently the department has realized that with no season, there is no data coming in to inform them on the status of the fishery so they’ve become amicable to the idea of letting divers take a limited harvest. The department would examine the catch and get their information and we get back in the water.
I am currently on the administrative committee that will assign the tasks for the collective of Scientists etc. that will actually write the next abalone fishery management plan. During today’s meeting we agreed that the first priority for the scientific team might be to explore what we could get out of a de minimis fishery.
We will probably never see the level of densities that we saw in the last 10-20 years but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have a fishery. If we are successful and can write a plan that will allow us to reopen a fishery in Northern California we may also be able to transpose that plan to part of Southern California.
Once the scientific team identifies what opportunities for take exist and what we would have to do to manage those opportunities the Watermen’s Alliance will host a meeting or maybe two for the fishermen to hear the proposals and discuss what opportunities we find value in pursuing in the management plan. These meetings will probably be a year or so from now but I wanted to share some hope with you and get people to start talking about a di minimus fishery and getting back in the water. It will never be what we had but we can get back in the game.