On Tuesday, the Office of Administrative Law approved the emergency regulations for the closure based on the Sept. 15 California Fish and Game Commission vote to close the fishery, taken in the wake of confirmed reports of dead red abalone and a variety of invertebrates on beaches and inside coves along the northern California coast. Reports have come from Bodega Bay, Russian Gulch, Fort Ross, Timber Cove and Salt Point State Park in Sonoma County, and as far north as Anchor Bay in Mendocino County.
Divers cannot take abalone in the closed area, and are encouraged to avoid diving there altogether.
The season currently remains open in the rest of the northern California coastal counties of Marin, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte.
The first reports of the die-off began Aug. 27 and is believed to be the result of a red tide-induced poisoning and/or lack of oxygen. According to California Department of Fish and Game biologists, these abalone deaths coincided with a local red tide bloom and calm ocean conditions and though the exact reasons for the deaths are not known, invertebrate die-offs have occurred in the past along the northern California coast when similar weather and bloom conditions existed.
Abalone fishermen are advised to contact a physician immediately if they become ill, and to report symptoms to the local county health department.
The public is also encouraged to report the location, number and date of dead or dying abalone to Ian Taniguchi at (562) 342-7182 or by e-mail. The latest red tide updates from the California Department of Public Health are also posted online.
Photo: A healthy live red abalone. Credit: Derek Stein / California Department of Fish and Game