Reminder: Abalone Season Opens May 1 After Commission Approves Emergency Regulations for 2017

abalone
Healthy red abalone on the move over crustose coralline algae-encrusted rock at Van Damme State Marine Conservation Area, August 27, 2015. CDFW photo by A. Maguire

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds divers and rock-pickers gearing up for the start of the red abalone season that the bag limit and season have changed for this popular fishery under emergency regulations for 2017.

The season has been shortened by two months, with an opening date of May 1 instead of April 1, and a closing date of October 31 instead of November 30.  In addition, the annual limit has been lowered to 12 abalone (from 18 abalone). The California Fish and Game Commission approved a shortened season Continue reading

New Online Resource for Kelp and Other Marine Algae

kelp
Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera   photo by R. Flores-Miller

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has produced a new web resource for kelp and other marine algae that provides information on commercial and recreational algae harvest, historical commercial harvest data Continue reading

“Perfect Storm” Decimates Northern California Kelp Forests

waves_A.Maguire
photo by A. Maguire
kelp cover maps
Comparison of kelp cover at four important abalone fishery sites in 2008 and 2014. Green indicates kelp canopy observed. Maps created from data collected during CDFW aerial surveys. (Data: M. Fredle)

Northern California kelp forests have been reduced to an all-time low due to a “perfect storm” of large-scale ecological impacts. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) marine invertebrate management team has conducted annual ecosystem surveys of kelp forests in Sonoma and Mendocino counties since the late 1990s, and recent observations have caused concern about the state of the kelp forests. The severe reduction in kelp has already impacted the recreational red abalone fishery and commercial red urchin fishery, two economically important fisheries in northern California.

Abalone and Urchins Starving
Bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana), usually common on the northern California coast, has declined dramatically since 2014. Kelp forests are now 93 percent smaller compared to previous years, creating starvation conditions for herbivores. Continue reading

Regulation Revisions Under Way for the Commercial Harvest of Marine Algae

giant kelp
Giant kelp

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reviewing the regulations that govern the commercial harvest of marine algae along the California coast, primarily to improve clarity of the regulations and management policies.

Marine algae are important to nearshore ecosystems. They provide food and habitat for many marine animals, and biological services such as carbon dioxide absorption (during photosynthesis). In addition to their ecological importance, humans collect marine algae for a variety of uses. Native Americans historically and currently use marine algae Continue reading