Abalone decline could mean shorter season, new regulations for divers

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing to lower the allowable abalone catch and shorten the season.

The state’s recent deep water surveys indicate that the red abalone population is low enough to trigger an emergency action that could close the season in November and possibly April, the Chronicle reported.

It could also reduce the annual limit from 18 abalones down to 12 or even nine, depending on what the Fish and Game Commission decides at a meeting next Wednesday, the newspaper reported. The season usually runs April through June and August through November.

The overall abalone population is struggling after two years of decline in kelp, which is its main source of food.

Many divers feel that the estimates are off and that the limits are too conservative.

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