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A few thoughts


Scuba Diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat


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Posted by seahunt on December 04, 2012 at 19:44:24:

In Reply to: Controversial proposed abalone fishery on San Miguel Island posted by Stephen Benavides on November 29, 2012 at 21:30:45:

A wild crop like abalone (though it's easier to study the effect in terms of timber
or deer) can be:
Unexploited
Lightly exploited
Exploited to a stable level
Exploited to reduction in stocks
Exploited to destruction

.... That's my way of saying "1) healthy populations, 2) populations which indicated stress
and required a reduction of take, and 3) densities at which the fishery should be closed."

It is interesting that one of the clearest genetically based human traits is what
I refer to as "neolithic hunting behavior". It is well known that Michigan sort of
shuts down at the start of deer season. I learned about this looking at timber
harvesting practices and deer harvesting. There just does not seem to be an off switch in
the human mind. Regulations seem to mostly be that it is unregulated or banned. Either
it is just over harvesting or none at all. Both seem to cause problems, largely because
we have removed so many natural predators. Finally with the fishing resources in such
crisis, policies have been formulated to try for some sustainability, though enforcement
has been difficult. In that many people have such a strong genetic predisposition to
hunting, it is a unique activity in how it stimulates and sharpens the senses. A hunter
is hyper aware of their environment. Often it has been hunters that have promoted
conservation, to try to preserve their hunting grounds.

Now as most anyone that knows me is aware, I love hunting underwater. It's in my
nature and it is more exciting than anything else I do. If you have paid attention
though, you'd know that like many hunters, I am into conservation... so I can continue
to hunt. Then again, I'm older and have mellowed a lot. FYI, I have a degree from the
UC in intertidal biology and know what I'm talking about on this subject.

Now my position on this is that the commercial harvesters hold the primary responsibility
for the over depleted condition of the fishery, so I have no sympathy for them. Sport divers
aren't as effective and aren't near as rapacious. It doesn't matter though. What matters is
that there are dock limits to allow continuous exploitation at a sustainable level. The two
problems with that is that the commercial fishermen don't want them and they can be expensive
to enforce, but they are enforcable... stamps...

Now, being older, I look at things more broadly. There are possibilities and considerations.
What are the econnomic implications? Lets see 12,000 abs @ $100 = $1.2 mil. = Not a lot after
expenses. Besides, that would be completely unsustainable. $1.2 mil would be about $600,000
profit at most. That's say 6 boats one year. Then maybe again in 4 years or so.

How about $5 a piece for ab stamps for conservation? Really, sport divers would
generate more economic activity and it would be far more sustainable. Take 2000 a year.
That's $10,000 to the F&G, plus say 1000 diver trips (limit 2 abs per day) at least at
$200 per diver trip to outer islands = $200,000 per year economic activity (by the way, with
the original number 12000 abs * $200 per diver trip = $2,400,000 - double the commercial
potential, oh and $60,000 to F&G)

Now a couple other things. Those numbers look bogus. As a matter of fact, gimme a break!
"This particular limitation requiring closure is 2500 abalone per hectare (approximately
2 1/2 acres in area)."
There are 43560 SQ ft /acre. That's about 110000 Sql Ft / hectare. Divide that by 2500 abalone
1 abalone every 44 sq feet. That is one abalone every 4 by 11 foot area. That is a lot abalone
and more than there usually were in my experience when we used to hunt them like crazy at all
the islands. That is more than in a lot of areas of the North Coast (not the good areas though)
So those numbers need some serious explaining.

Sew.... As things are progressing, there are going to be a lot of abalone again in
a few years (if global warming doesn't kill everything). There will need to be a harvest.
All things need to be in balance. I want the sport divers well represented in that bounty.
The sport divers though and especially the commercial harvesters need to be tamed. There must
be dock/take limits based on sustainability, not on instinct, desire or human made commercial
models.

One final thing. If the otters come back, forget it. I've dove the otter areas and abalone
are probably something like 1 per acre (another reason that number is silly. In otter areas, a few abalone survive in rare cracks too deep for the otters and are the only reproducers). Those
animals are the only thing I know of that are more destructive than humans. They have no size or
take limits and constantly live at the edge of starvation, because they exploit all edible species
to a level of near destruction of stocks. Look in the calm spots behind rocks where the otters go
to eat at all the tiny shells. Kelp beds around the world are healthy without them. Everybody loses
with them. Cute little tubular water rats that bite each other and people.

Enjoy the sea, seahunt



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