I sent this letter in
I know you and the organization you represent are very busy throughout the year, with many different things going on all at once regarding Fish & Wildlife Management for CA. But, thank you for taking the time to read this and hoping it may spark some alternate solutions or out-of-the-box ideas within your organization to help in opening up and managing a resource that I, my children, one day my children's children, and many others enjoy with a passion that few others ever experience in their lives. Abalone fishery Management is a difficult thing to balance with the flawed current ARMP that is in place for the so called "Cadillac"fishery. With that being said, I hope you and others realize we divers can be a significant resource in helping monitor those changes and offer viable real world solutions. Diver's involvement in management would promote both a healthy ocean and also build a trusted alliance between fisherman and the DFW which is there to help in keeping those resources available for future generations. I am writing this letter to share some out of the box solutions that will be fair to all involved and benefit the fishery. Fair, meaning that no one is 100% happy, but at least accepting of what is being offered. I have put together some “ideas" that may help remove some of the current mistrust out there among all groups involved, promote a healthy and thriving fishing environment, and encourage a "hands on" approach (in some cases) for folks to directly help in managing our resources. Thank you again for your time.
Abalone Recovery Proposal: The idea is to promote the recovery of the kelp beds and Kelp growth in order to repair the feeding grounds that were lost when the starfish die off occurred a few years back. This die off caused a huge population surge in the purple urchin along the Sonoma and Mendocino Coast. This surge also contributed to massive areas and normal abalone feeding grounds to be consumed and decimated by sea urchins., Resulting in starvation of the abalone. Closing the abalone fishing season is not going to help in restoring the affected areas to a balanced environment between the urchin and abalone. Even, as stated by DFW themselves, when the starfish return to their normal (pre-die off) numbers it will take a long time for abalone to rebound. The other suggestion that I have is for the DFW to work diligently with The Nature Conservancy and divers to create a new fishery management plan that is more realistic and not set up to be a"Cadillac" fishery.
I hope we can get the RAAC to ask the DFW to work with them on getting the FMP in time to be considered for reopening in 2019, which means having a final "draft" by June 2018. So, what I am proposing is a temporary 1 year urchin removal project. Basically what that entails is allowing divers to remove purple urchin (by any means) no limit on urchin harvest. I know myself and other like Josh Russo and groups like the Watermens Alliance are already working and raising funds for urchin removal. My other recommendation is to allow "citizen scientists" to help gather data, to revamp the survey techniques and use other info and statics to evaluate the health of the fishery instead of the standard generic index sites and transects that are used now.
Diver for 30 years and sonma coast resident and
Founder of Norcal Underwater Hunters