Abalone divers joined together to address emergency restrictions proactively

Josh Russo of the Waterman’s Alliance presented alternative choices for the upcoming emergency restrictions for the Abalone Fishery.

Purple Urchin Barren smallAs The Abalone Hunter reported in June http://mendocinotv.com/2016/06/14/mendocino-county-fish-game-commission/  when the Mendocino County Fish and Game Commission brought their report to the diving community, The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has made the decision to declare Emergency Restrictions on the fishery. After meeting with the commission Josh Russo of the Waterman’s Alliance discovered there was another choice for the upcoming emergency restrictions.

A historic number of divers and interested community members attended the meeting at the CV Starr Center Saturday, December 3rd. At first there were grumblings about the validity of the science and the politics in play but Josh Russo kept the audience focused on the things they could change rather than the things they cannot. After several hours of discussion from a very engaged audience, the novel idea of eliciting public input before the decision is made inspired the divers to voice their opinions and ideas. Watch the video to see civic engagement at it’s best!

The restrictions are for 6 months and can be renewed twice for 3 months. After that period of time the regulations revert to how they were before the restrictions. The crisis is not because of diving, poaching or other human activity. Sea Stars have been decimated by a disease in the past few years. There primary food source are urchins. Purple Urchins have invaded the shallow coastal waters and devoured a large amount of Kelp. Abalone and sea urchins compete for what was once a plentiful food source, Kelp. The result of the increasing competition for food has been a withering of the abalone stock.

The desire is that the restrictions will take some of the pressure off of the existing stock to allow the fishery to recover.

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