No hanging chads for abalone divers

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Posted by Chris on March 18, 2004 at 10:00:51:

Abalone Divers Prepare for Season Opener April 1

California's abalone sport divers will welcome the state's seven-month split-season for red abalone when it reopens April 1 in waters north of San Francisco Bay. The 2004 abalone permit report card will be available at all vendors by the last week in March, announced the Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

The sport season for the delectable mollusks runs each year from April 1 to June 30, and then from Aug. 1 to Nov. 30. The recreational bag limits for abalone - three per day, 24 per year - remains the same as last season.

North coast red abalone can only be taken for personal consumption and not for sale or barter. Regulations still include a 7-inch minimum size limit, measured along the longest shell diameter, and possession of a fixed measuring device.

Sport divers are prohibited from using scuba or other surface supplied air equipment to catch abalone and cannot possess abalone on board any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing scuba or surface supplied air. There is no problem transporting abalone and scuba gear while together on land. Divers working from boats, kayaks, float tubes or other floating devices who wish to use scuba equipment to spear fish or harvest sea urchins, rock scallops or crabs of the genus Cancer, will need to make a separate trip.

DFG anticipates all local license vendors will have the reports cards available before the season opens. Printing the report cards, or "punch cards" as they are known, was delayed this year due to lengthy review of new regulations.

New regulations for 2004 are meant to clarify how the punch cards should be used. In particular, the new regulations clarify several points:

"These changes are expected to increase the ability of wardens to enforce the regulations, which, in turn, will increase the accuracy of information about the number and location of abalone taken by sport fishermen," said Jerry Kashiwada, DFG marine biologist.

Returning abalone punch cards to DFG is mandatory, either at the end of the season or when no further abalone will be taken for the season. Abalone permit report cards may be sent to: DFG, 19160 South Harbor Drive, Fort Bragg, CA 95437-5798. Cards must be received within 30 days of the Nov. 30 season closure, regardless of whether any abalone was taken.

For the full set of abalone fishing regulations, visit DFG's Marine Region website at For more information on California's abalone go to the Marine Region's abalone resource website at

Contacts: Jerry Kashiwada, Marine Biologist, (707) 964-5791; Carrie Wilson, Marine Region, (831) 649-7191

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