Are Abalone Report Cards Used to Set New Quotas?

North Coast free diver measuring a red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) to be sure it's of legal size before taking (CDFW photo by Patrick Foy)

North Coast freediver measuring a legal-sized red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) before detaching and taking it to the surface (CDFW photo by Patrick Foy)

Question: I was just filing my abalone harvest report, which rather than being due the end of January like before, is now not due until April 1. While I appreciate the extra time and opportunity to still fill out my report when I go to buy new tags for the season opener, I am wondering if this means my harvest data from last year is not being used to set quotas and limits for the following season. Specifically, is the impact of the Fort Ross closure and potential rebound or the north/south split of the last few years not being accounted for? (Darren M., Folsom)

Answer: I’m afraid you are mistaken about the deadline changing. Abalone report cards are still due Jan. 31. Beginning this year our online reporting system will accept late reports because they still contain valuable information even after the Jan. 31 deadline. In the future, late reporting may result in a mandatory late fee or temporary suspension of the privilege to harvest abalone.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Marine Environmental Scientist Jerry Kashiwada, data from all cards returned to the Fort Bragg office are now being entered and it takes additional time beyond the deadline for that to be completed. These data are very valuable in helping us determine the effects of the current set of regulations but it will take several years to sort out the regulation effects from year to year variations. We had already been noting shifts in fishing effort to Mendocino County before the Fort Ross closure and catch reduction in Sonoma and Marin counties.

Our current management of abalone does not change from year to year in response to report card data. Instead, it is based on the density of abalone monitored by dive surveys at eight index sites. But the card data does provide valuable indications of abalone status at the many sites not covered by index site surveys. The card data helps us determine the effects of the latest regulations, while the surveys show the effects on abalone populations and will largely determine future regulatory changes.

We are currently working on a new abalone management plan and will have public meetings in the near future to discuss details of the plan. For more information, please go to http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/red-abalone-fmp.


Hunting chipmunks
Question: I was recently in a conversation about hunting chipmunks and we are curious if it’s legal to do? I do not plan on hunting them, just want to know. (Michael C.)

Answer: Chipmunks are classified as nongame mammals, which generally would mean they may not be taken. However, chipmunks may be taken because California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 472(a) authorizes take of nongame rodents except for tree and flying squirrels, rodents that are designated as furbearers, and endangered or threatened species.


Shark fin prohibition
Question: According to the shark fin regulations, skate wings cannot be possessed as they are the expanded pectoral fins of an elasmobranch. I don’t understand this because the skates are still legal to catch and the only part of a skate that is eatable as far as I know is the wing. How do I prepare the skate if it’s illegal to possess the wing? (Joel)

Answer: “Shark fins” are defined to mean the raw, dried or otherwise processed detached fin or tail of an elasmobranch (FGC, section 2021). Since skates are elasmobranchs, the law applies to detached skate wings. The shark fin law was adopted in part to conserve state resources, prevent animal cruelty by prohibiting shark fin removal of live fish and to protect wildlife and public health due to high levels of mercury in shark fins. Many people do eat the body and tail of the skate. The harvest of skates for personal consumption is permissible under current law as long as the entire animal is harvested and not just the wings. You should transport the whole skate to where you are going to prepare it for immediate consumption.


Hunting on rental property
Question: I am renting some land and would like to hunt on it. Do I need hunting permission written into the lease agreement? Do I need to carry written permission from the landowner on my person? Do I need verbal permission? Or does my renting the land give me permission to hunt? (Jennifer)

Answer: It is unlawful to enter certain lands for hunting purposes “without having first obtained written permission from the owner, the owner’s agent, or the person in lawful possession of that land” (FGC, section 2016). But as the renter of the land, you are the person in lawful possession of the land, so you are not required to carry written permission from the landowner. However, prior to hunting on the land, you should make sure there are no restrictions in your lease or rental agreement that prohibits you from hunting on the property.

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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.

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