Tag Archives: mollusks

Why No Abalone Diving/Picking Before 8:00 a.m.?

Abalone free diver (Photo by Ken Bailey)

Abalone free diver (Photo by Ken Bailey)

Question: Why are abalone divers and pickers now required to wait until 8:00 a.m. to begin? Can divers still go spear fishing at the normal legal start time or take early morning photos, then switch over to abalone diving at 8 a.m.? (Anonymous)

Answer: The new 8:00 a.m. start time is an abalone conservation measure. It reduces the number of low-tide days people will be able to take abalone by rock picking (searching amongst rocks for abalone at low tide). During the spring, many low tides occur much earlier than 8:00 a.m.

This regulation change originated from the concerns of wardens who were witnessing large numbers of fishermen coming each and every low tide and taking large numbers of abalone. In addition to all the legal-sized abalone being taken, people were removing numerous undersized abalone while trying to find legal ones. Because undersized abalone often do not survive being removed and returned, they are likely to die. Thus, the impact on the fishery when this happens is probably much greater than the estimated legal catch (over 200,000 abalone annually in recent years).

Some people were also using the dim light before dawn to hide illegal activities. Wardens believe the later start time will aid them in enforcing regulations by moving early morning abalone fishing activities to hours with better daylight. The effect of the new start time on total catch is uncertain because people could shift to later hours or the days with low tides after 8:00 A.M. Although there may be a reduction in overall take based on the 8:00 A.M. start time, the increased enforcement benefit is clearly going to assist with compliance of the regulations. Once the data from the change has been analyzed, CDFW will be able to evaluate what the overall benefit to the abalone resource was.

Divers wanting to go out before 8 a.m. to spearfish or do underwater photography can do this as long as they don’t have the means of taking abalone or are searching for abalone before the official state time. If their activities appear to a warden to be taking or searching for abalone before 8 a.m., then they can be cited.

Abalone pickers

Wildlife Officers watch from the bluffs for violations by abalone divers and pickers (Photos by K. Joe)


How to stop people who are not obeying the rules?
Question: I was watching two boys catch a lot of trout (at least 40) and they were handling these fish after landing them in the dirt. They would pick and choose which ones to keep and throw back the small ones, most of which soon died. I was appalled by their lack of respect and sportsmanship, and when I approached their father his reply was, “Who are you to say how many we have? We don’t have a full basket!” The last time I needed to call law enforcement to this county park they couldn’t find the park until after the offenders had left. How can we stop these types of people from ruining the opportunities for others? (Gerry)

Answer: The best thing you can do is to record as much information about the location, situation and descriptions of people and the vehicle(s) they are driving (including make, model, color and license plate number). Provide all of this information at your earliest convenience to our CalTIP hotline at 1-888-334-CalTIP(2258). Leave a message if need be, with contact information, and a warden will receive this information. If officers are in the area when you call, they will come. If they are not able to arrive in time to catch the people who are breaking the laws, they will be aware of the situation and looking for the offenders the next time around.


Problems with crows and ravens – depredation permit an option?
Question: Why is there such a limited season on hunting crows? I suspect they are covered under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but they are a nuisance species. I run into a number of landowners who have problems with crows with regards to crop damage, etc. Many of these landowners say that based on size, they also have ravens which are also damaging. I know there is a crow hunting season, but what about ravens? I also know “corvids” are very problematic predators for song birds and marbled murrelets on the coast. Can landowners get a depredation permit for either species, and if so, where? (Patrick R., Santa Rosa)

Answer: You just missed the hunting season for American crows, which runs from Dec. 7 through April 9. Ravens cannot be hunted. The regulations allow for landowners to destroy (shoot) crows that are damaging farm fields or other crops (CCR Title 14, section 472(d)).


Lifetime license holder moves out of state
Question: If, while a California resident, I purchase either a lifetime fishing or hunting license, will that license still be valid if I subsequently establish residency in another state? (Greg L., Mission Viejo)

Answer: Yes. You must be a resident to purchase the license, but after it is purchased, it will be valid for use in California for the rest of your life, regardless of where you reside.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Collecting Marine Invertebrates for a Home Aquarium?

Octopus with shrimp peering out from inside a reef at Anacapa Island (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Octopus with shrimp peering out from inside a reef at Anacapa Island (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: What are the explicit regulations concerning the collection of live marine organisms for use in a personal marine aquarium? I am interested in collecting octopus. From what I understand, live fish are not to be taken under any circumstances. But it seems that some other organisms are allowed as long as they do not come from a protected area. I am a marine biology student who wants to have a simple native “tide pool type” of aquarium for my own personal delight. I do have a California sport fishing license. (Cristiana A.)

Answer: Octopus may be collected for a home aquarium and transported live under the authority of a sport fishing license as long as they are exclusively for that person’s personal aquarium display. Maintaining live sport-taken octopus in a home aquarium is not considered public “display” and thus does not fall under the provisions of the marine aquaria pet trade (Fish and Game Code, sections 8596-8597). Transporting live “finfish” (as opposed to mollusks and crustaceans) is prohibited (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.62).

Invertebrates collected under the authority of a sport fishing license may not be used to establish breeding colonies for sale or trade with other people. Any trading, selling or possession for sale or trade of these animals constitutes commercial marine aquaria pet trade activity and requires all parties to hold “marine aquaria collectors permits” authorizing this practice. A marine collector’s permit is also required for any animals on display for the public.

People collecting live marine invertebrates for a home aquarium may do so only under the authority of a sport fishing license, and only those species allowed under a sport fishing license may be taken. In addition, any species with sport fishing restrictions (e.g. bag, size, possession, season limits, methods of take, etc.) are still covered under those regulations, and so collectors must also abide by these laws.


Number of rods to land last fish?
Question: When legally fishing with two rods and you are one fish shy of your limit, can you still fish with two rods or do you need to cut back to just one for the final fish to fill your limit? (Neil M.)

Answer: You can keep using both rods until you get your limit.


Are premium deer tags becoming unrestricted?
Question: I have a question about premium deer tags. When reading the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) definition of what determines if a tag is premium, it is very clear and I understand it. What I have not found is information that clarifies the procedure for a premium tag becoming unrestricted. If a tag is premium and the quota does not fill on or before the first business day after July 1, does it become an unrestricted tag the following year? That would make sense, however, when I look back at the drawing statistics in past years I have noticed it is not always what happens. As an example, A22 was a premium tag from 2003 through 2008 even though most of the 1000 tags were left over each of those years. In 2009 it went back to unrestricted. This year A22 and A31 were premium and did not fill in the drawing. Will they still be premium next year? (Steve B.)

Answer: Under the current regulations:

  • A Premium Deer Hunt is any hunt where the quota filled on or before the first business day after July 1, of the previous year.
  • A Restricted Deer Hunt is any hunt that filled on or before the first business day after August 1 of the previous year.
  • An Unrestricted Deer Hunt is any hunt that did not fill on or before the first business day after August 1, in the previous year.

The examples you provided occurred before the current regulations were adopted. The tag classification regulations that we have now where adopted in the 2009 big game drawing season.

This year, the deer tag quotas for A22 and A31 both filled on July 2, which is the first business day after July 1, so A22 and A31 will remain premium tags next year. The date in which a deer tag fills is the determining factor of which classification a tag is listed under, not whether the tag quota fills in the drawing or not. With this in mind, hunters need to pay close attention to which classification their tags are listed in each license year.

Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Raw or Cooked … It Still Counts Towards Your Limit

Red abalone from California's North Coast (Photo by DFG Marine Biologist Derek Stein)

Question: I often go to Fort Bragg with a group of friends to get abalone. On the first day we all make our dives, and then in the evening we have abalone and a fish fry. The abalone is all sliced, pounded and breaded. Some always remains uncooked or cooked and not eaten. We go diving again the next day and get our limits again, and then head home that day or the next. I know I may only possess three abalone in the shells. However, what about the abalone I have left over, including the abalone that has been sliced, pounded and breaded for food? Will I be in violation for being over my limit? Do I need to keep the old shells and tags? (Terry L., Nipomo)

Answer: The law states: No more than one daily bag limit of each kind of fish, amphibian, reptile, mollusk or crustacean named may be taken or possessed by any one person unless otherwise authorized; regardless of whether they are fresh, frozen, or otherwise preserved (California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 1.17). 

According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Lt. Dennis McKiver, even if you have leftover abalone that is pounded, breaded and cooked, it still remains part of your abalone limit until you either eat it or give it away. If you have a partial abalone left over after your first day’s dinner, you would only be allowed to get two abalone the next day. Otherwise you would be over your possession limit. If you have three tagged abalone in their shells and one partial abalone pounded and breaded and you are headed home, you would not only be in violation of being in possession of an over limit, but you would also be in violation of transporting an abalone that has been removed from the shell.

In the future, make sure you eat all of your prepared abalone or else give it away before you get another full limit or head home.


Can I keep a pet dwarf caiman?
Question: I want to keep a pet dwarf caiman and was wondering how I can get a permit to do so. I know a lot about them and how to handle them properly based on what I’ve learned from other gator experts and gator farm workers. I have done a lot of research myself and know to never release a caiman into the wild. (Ian L.)

Answer: Unfortunately, you cannot keep a pet dwarf caiman. California restricts the importation and possession of many species, including all species in the Order Crocodilia. No restricted species may be imported or possessed for pet purposes. For additional information and a list of restricted species, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/about/wildlife.html and click on “Restricted Species Laws” (PDF).


Starting a business to trap/eradicate wild feral hogs
Question: I am interested in starting a company to focus on trapping / eradicating wild feral hogs. Does California have a permit program for this venture? If so, how can I get information and an application to allow me to do this? Are there any counties that need this service? (Joseph W., Murrietta)

Answer: According to DFG Statewide Wild Pig Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon, a property owner may apply to the DFG for a permit (depredation permit) to kill wild pigs causing damage to their property. This depredation permit contains a section wherein up to three individuals may be listed to act as an “agent” on behalf of the landowner. These agents may kill the pigs for the landowner in the manner specified on the permit. You, as a sole proprietor of a company, could be listed as an agent on this permit at the time it is issued by DFG, and then you would be able to take the pigs as specified in the permit.

Wild pig populations are mostly concentrated around the central coastal counties, ranging from Mendocino to Ventura counties.


Shooting clay pigeons when doves not in season.
Question: Is it legal to shoot clay pigeons in the same fields that I use for dove hunting when doves are not in season? (Richard X.)

Answer: Fish and Game laws do not generally cover target practice. However, Fish and Game law does prohibit target practice on most state wildlife areas, except in specifically designated areas that are identified as such.

Keep in mind that shooting clay targets produces a lot of litter. Please make sure you have the property owner’s permission before you do it and comply with their requirements regarding cleanup.

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 Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.