Good reasons for the abalone rules

Question: I have been an avid abalone diver for more than 28 years. Why do we have a set season for abalone diving? Since we have abalone report cards and are limited to three per day and 24 abalone per year, why does it matter what time of year we take those abalone? I can understand the reason for a season when the only limit was four abs per day and all you wanted during season. But we are only allowed 24 now, so what difference does it make what time of year I take my 24 abs?

We should be able to go all year round. From my understanding, abalone do not have a set breeding season since they are broadcast spawners and breed all year long depending on the tides and currents.

— Matt M.

Answer: The abalone season is one tool for reducing the take of abalone and it works in conjunction with other regulations to limit the overall number of abalone taken. According to Department of Fish & Game associate marine biologist Jerry Kashiwada, the abalone fishery is not regulated with a fixed quota like some fisheries. The report card limit is only designed to reduce excessive take and is not based on the number of abalone each person should be allowed to take.

The abalone report card was established because game wardens were seeing people driving up to the abalone grounds every day of the season to get a limit. The current limit of 24 was thought by the Fish and Game Commission to be a reasonable number of abalone for a person to take for the season, but it was never intended that everyone take 24 abalone. The average number of abalone taken per card has been between eight and 10. Though this might sound like a low number, the large number of report cards sold each year results in an annual legal harvest of more than 260,000 abalone. Wardens suspect the actual impact on abalone populations is much larger because abalone divers and pickers are commonly cited for failing to tag abalone, not marking their abalone cards and for high-grading (the illegal practice of continuing to detach abalone after a bag limit of legal sized abalone has been taken). High-grading also increases the number of abalone that die due to fishery activities.

Even with the current limits and regulations, there is concern that some sites are showing signs of reduced abalone populations. The Fish and Game Commission is not likely to make any regulation changes that would increase the number of abalone being taken.

Q: I have been told it is illegal to use electronic calls for ducks and turkeys, but I was wondering if electronic calls or bait can be used for hunting coyotes or other predators. Also, I know there are restrictions on mechanical (electrical) decoys being used during the first portion of the duck season, but can a mechanical (moving/shaking) rabbit decoy be used for coyotes?

— Mark, San Bruno

A: Electronic calls (specifically authorized) and mechanically-moving rabbit decoys (not prohibited) can be used to take coyotes.

Q: I have questions regarding deer trophies taken legally during regular deer season and their possession and transportation months or years afterward. What paperwork, if any, must be kept? How long must this be kept? Are people in possession of deer heads in violation if they don't keep their old deer tags?

— Geoff V.

A: There is no paperwork required by California Fish & Game laws to possess old taxidermied deer mounts. There are also no restrictions on possession or transport, however, it is illegal to sell, barter or trade them regardless of their age. It's always best if the tags are attached, but its not required.

Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Game. Send questions to: CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov