Opinion » Letters

Abalone not gone, not forgotten

San Luis Obispo



Glen Roberts’ reaction to your article, “The snails did go quickly” (July 10, 2008) is not unusual. I’ve been hearing such for the past 40 years from a public brainwashed into believing abalone have become scarce due primarily to over-fishing by humans.

Sufficient scientific study has well documented that sea otters, not fishermen, brought about the declines. Yet, after decades of false reporting, far too many people believe fishermen were the culprits. Thanks to Alistair Bland and New Times for helping to correct the story.

Fish managers, not fishermen, designed the management scheme. Fishermen are only obligated to obey the laws. It has become apparent, not just with abalone, that managing fisheries (people) is far more difficult than managing threatened or endangered species. And, the latter is also more rewarding: grants, awards, Ph.D.s, etc. What is clear is the one-size-fits-all management of eight abalone species in California did not work.

There are still tens of millions of red abalone along our coast. However, they are relegated to cracks and crevices where they continue to spawn. If they crawl out, they become sea otter food. Few reach legal size for human use.

The huge shell piles, which used to occur along the coast, were simple examples of how rich our coast once was. Harvesting abalone at the end of their lifecycle was good for the populations. It made room for the young and sustained the red abalone fishery at Morro Bay for more than 50 years. Some of us really miss it.

-- Steven L. Rebuck - San Luis Obispo

-- Steven L. Rebuck - San Luis Obispo

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