Attention Abalone Divers-Naturalists -Anyone interested environmental factors of our coastal waters!
Your Help Is Needed
The Abalone Project needs help this year’s Abalone Creel Surveys. The surveys cover about 10 abalone creel sites for 2 days in each of 3 months this Spring. This is a great opportunity for volunteers to experience first-hand one of the most popular recreational fisheries in California.
What is a Creel?
Creel is a type of small wicker basket mainly used by anglers to hold their catch of the day. Its design provides an evaporative function much like today’s coolers. Caught fish are inserted through a slot in the top which is held in place by a small leather strap.
Creels tend to be used only by steadfast river anglers, but the word creel continues to refer to the catch.
Thus, a creel survey is an accurate and reliable technique, usually an interview, to obtain information on a fishery.
Northern California Abalone Creel Surveys
This year we are particularly interested in seeing how the catch is affected by poor environmental conditions for red abalone (warm water, no kelp and sea urchin population explosion). Participants will be interviewing abalone fishermen at traditional creel sites and will not be involved with enforcing fishing regulations.
Dates selected this year are April 10 & 11 (Sunday, Monday); May 8 & 9 (Sunday, Monday); and June 5 & 6 (Sunday, Monday). People can sign up for single days. Some travel expenses can be covered. Because of budget concerns, travel expenses covered by abalone funds will be limited. We will cover lodging costs up to a total of $180 (but no more than $90 per night) plus taxes and three days per diem. Airfare will not be covered. Private car mileage can be claimed up to the cost of a rental car and fuel.
The sampling is done for about 3 ½ hours during morning low tides but will not begin before the new 8:00 A.M. abalone fishery start time.
- Shelter Cove (southern Humboldt County),
- Hardy Creek,
- MacKerricher State Park,
- Glass Beach,
- south Georgia Pacific Mill,
- Van Damme State Park,
- Arena Cove,
- Moat Creek (Mendocino County),
- Sea Ranch,
- Salt Point and
- Fort Ross area (Sonoma County).
You don’t have to be a diver to participate in any of these creel surveys. The information gathered will be very useful in helping the California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulate the abalone fishery and we will all learn something about the state of abalone, especially at Sea Ranch.
For information on participating with the creel survey contact Jerry Kashiwada at the Fort Bragg Marine Region field office (707) 964-5791.
Concerns for the north coast abalone fishery
Concerns for the north coast abalone fishery include:
- Small numbers of young abalone
- Indications of depletion at heavily used sites
- Increase in legal abalone take
Significance of Abalone Creel Surveys Data
Data from abalone creel surveys show significant increases in travel distance for shore pickers at some sites. This means that areas nearest to access points are depleted and fishermen must travel farther to take abalone. Creel data also show declines in catch-per-unit effort for some Sonoma and southern Mendocino County sites.
Mendocino and Sonoma Counties now account for 96% of the sport abalone effort. The estimated take for these counties increased 27% in the past decade.
Poaching is a problem but wardens estimate all forms of illegal take are only 12% of the legal take. The legal take is considerably larger than the illegal take.
These concerns lead biologists to believe that a precautionary approach to the management of red abalone should be taken to conserve red abalone resources.