In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Pete Thomas Outdoors, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:
Question: I believe the regulations say you must carry an abalone gauge and a fishing license when diving for abalone. Does that mean both need to be on my person when diving or is having those items in my float tube sufficient? (Mr. Chee)
Answer: It depends on the circumstances. The short answer is that they may be left in the dive tube only if the dive tube remains in your immediate possession. The long explanation follows:
According to Department of Fish and Game Lt. Dennis McKiver, all individuals including divers must have an Abalone Report Card in their immediate possession while fishing for or taking red abalone (California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 29.16(a)). In addition, every person while taking abalone shall carry a fixed-caliper measuring gauge (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(f)). As long as the dive tube is in the immediate possession of diver, then the diver may leave their Abalone Report Card and abalone gauge in their dive tube. It is required that "undersize abalone must be replaced immediately to the same surface of the rock from which detached," therefore it is always best if you carry your measuring gauge with you.
Let’s say you surface with an abalone and then have to swim a distance to retrieve your dive tube and abalone gauge, only to measure and discover the abalone is undersize. Now that you have had to swim away from the location where the abalone was taken, you may not be inclined or able to return and find "the same surface of the rock from which detached." If you are being watched by the warden and fail to replace the abalone "immediately to the same surface of the rock from which detached," then you might be cited for violating CCR Title 14, section 29.15(d), failure to immediately reattach abalone to the same surface of the rock from which detached, and also section 29.15(f), failure to carry a measuring device while taking abalone as required. The measuring device should remain in your immediate possession, so your best bet is to anchor your float tube close by so it doesn’t drift away while you are diving and your gauge and license are always close at hand.
Q: While hunting, is it legal to carry more than one firearm, not including handguns? I cannot locate any regulations that prohibit carrying a rifle and a shotgun together. (Jason H.)
According to retired DFG Capt. Phil Nelms, exceptions to this general rule occur in certain areas and during seasons when all firearms are prohibited. Such exceptions include certain wildlife areas, refuges, areas with county firearms closures and archery only seasons/zones.
For the authorized methods of take for various categories of game and nongame birds/mammals, please check the hunting regulations (sections 311, 353, 465, 475 and 507 (for waterfowl)). The regulations are available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/.
Q: I realize buying and selling bear claws is prohibited in California, but is there an exception in the law for vintage Native American jewelry? These pieces often include bear claws in their designs, which are an important part of their culture. They also, of course, in no way cause any damage to the current bear population. (Neil Z., Burbank)
A: Unfortunately, the purchase or sale of the pieces or parts of any bear is prohibited and the law does not provide any exception for Native American art pieces (Fish and Game Code, section 4758).
Q: I am a disabled American veteran. Can I purchase the reduced fee fishing license online? How about the reduced fee hunting license online? (Randolph Toy)
A: No, you will need to purchase these licenses initially from a DFG office because you will need to fill out the reduced fee forms. Once you are in the system, you will be able to purchase these licenses online in the future.
If you have a question you would like to see answered in this column, e-mail it to CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.
Image of diver measuring abalone with fixed-caliper measuring gauge courtesy of Ken Bailey, via California Department of Fish and Game