Your Input Needed on Abalone Management
Here is what I think. Our oceans are in trouble. Climate change, poor kelp beds, warmer waters, disease. Human activity is a big factor in the shift. The way to change human behavior is to make it personal. GET PEOPLE INTO THE WILD. Get us in the water, skin to skin. Immersion. Let us see it up close, feel the power of the waves, the changes year to year, and day to day. See plastic in the ocean. See the difference in an El Nino year.
3 abalone, the current daily limit is more than one family can eat. At Schooners, we have huge Ab feeds, but since divers travel in packs, the harvest is still more than can be eaten at once. As far as frozen... tastes like chicken in my humble opinion. Can't sell it.
The thrill of the chase is about the dive. Abalone, being snails, do not put up a fight. The Pacific ocean provides the excitement. A good hunt should be a fair fight, where both parties have their life on the line. I stopped harvesting, my campers feed me, thank you very much! I dive to visit, measure and encourage the abalone. ("Run little snail! Grow fat and have lots of babies!") My goal is to be in the water, interact and understand.
Could F&W engage divers in some voluntary citizen science? Use our observations even more, to study the problems? Empower divers to be part of the solution?
As a park owner and conservationist, I think the regulations should maximize diver time in the water. More visits to the coast support the local economy. More time in the water keeps it real for us. Engages people on a personal level, hopefully going home and teaching their kids to turn down that extra plastic straw, or make their next car more fuel efficient. This isn't a National Geographic show, it is our home!
I recommend- Decrease daily catch limit, to encourage MORE, lower impact dives. Keep the season open in April, to bring divers to the coast and get them in the water. November doesn't matter so much. Add ways to use divers as citizen scientists. Engage divers in behaviors that might address the big picture of ecological change.
Rather than shutting down the ocean, empower us to be part of the solution