Letter to Governor Shwarzenegger on Possible Resumption of Abalone Fishery

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Posted by Dr. Bill on December 23, 2005 at 23:31:09:

In Reply to: Abalone Fishery Off Southland May Reopen posted by Jon on December 23, 2005 at 14:04:56:

I wrote the following to California's Gov. Schwarzenegger about the proposed resumption of a commercial abalone fishery at San Miguel Island. I hope others will do likewise if they agree.

Dr. Bill

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

I am taking the time to write to you because I believe you have a sincere concern for the environment of our State.

Today I read in the [I]Los Angeles Times [/I]of the Fish & Game Commission's decision to consider re-opening a commercial abalone fishery around San Miguel Island. I am appalled at this decision which runs contrary to the recommendations by the staff biologists at the Department of Fish & Game (DFG).

If the [I]Times[/I] is correct in stating that Commissioner Jim Kellogg said he would take the word of any fisherman who earns his living by fishing "over all the science in the world," I feel Mr. Kellogg is entirely biased and unqualified to render any fact-based decisions as a Commissioner. I request that you appoint someone else with more objectivity to fill his seat.

I have been a marine biologist and SCUBA diver working in the State since the late 1960's. I remember the days when I could watch abalone grow for several years before I harvested them for dinner. Those days are long gone due to the over fishing by the commercial abalone industry (as well as recreational divers and disease), and poor former (and self acknowledged) management of these species by DFG.

Now, when the populations at San Miguel Island are beginning to show some recovery is NOT the time to resume a commercial harvest, especially to serve only the wealthy who can afford to buy such rare delicacies.

Abalone require many years to grow to legal size, and to reproductive maturity. As broadcast spawners, they require fairly high densities for successful reproduction. To thin them out now as they are initiating a comeback is absurd.

The San Miguel Island population may well serve as one of the few refuges for red abalone in the southern part of the State. As such, their health may be critical to replenishing the other Channel Islands and mainland abalone populations. To deplete them now, even by small amounts, may prove to be a serious mistake.

I personally know several former commercial abalone divers who think resuming a harvest is a major mistake. Please give us your leadership in reconsidering this ill-advised decision by a Commission on which some members sit who are unwilling to listen to facts.

Dr. William W. Bushing
Marine Ecologist and Educator

PS- This is not to disparage the many fishers who really care about the environment. As a biologist, some of the best eyes I've seen for what is going on in the ocean were fishers, I had a part interest in a commercial salmon boat years ago, and still talk to fishers when I'm interested in information about fish stocks and the emvironment. Many of the ones I talk to have been at it for many decades and have good perspectives on the decline in fish stocks in my part of the world. Their livelihoods depend on it.

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