The single thick, curved shell of red abalone reaches more than 12 inches in diameter. Red brick inside and mother-of-pearl silver inside, these are trophies, framed for the wall, mounted on a fireplace or placed along the aisles as decoration of the courtyard. The meat inside, which is sometimes worth several kilos, is a delicacy, with a flavor and texture that does not resemble squid. “We`ve seen him take 57 abalone so far,” Lt. Patrick Foy said outside a home in Oakland, noting that the annual limit in 2013 was 24. (It was reduced to 18 in 2014.) “We think it`s for commercial selling.” The man, who committed a first offender, had not a single buyer, only many small ones. Some paid about $100 per abalone, investigators said, and others may have received the abalone as a gift or in reciprocal favor. The man was charged with illegally buying and selling sport fish and abalone. Its network of connections was noted. However, abalone has top priority.

It was first harvested in California in the mid-1800s by Chinese immigrants, who mainly dried and exported it. The Japanese created many of the state`s hundreds of business operations in the early 20th century. With the advent of diving, divers were finally able to collect 2,000 or more abalone per day. Allan Sanderson filled out his abalone card after returning from a dive. Abalone fishing is subject to strict regulations to avoid population depletion. Often, when cars approach the backup, you may see abalone thrown out of windows in desperate attempts to avoid detection. The confiscated abalone is donated to local fundraisers and local soup kitchens. Keepers usually find poorly filled log leaves and one or two additional abalone. Even these can be costly breaches. Investigators, of course, want meaningful arrests.

After unsuspectingly buying the 45 abalone from an informant in May, the suspect continued his shift at the San Francisco auto repair shop, unaware that he was surrounded by a constellation of law enforcement officers. They had their dealer. They wanted to see what he was doing with his stock. Dwayne Dinucci, an abalone diver who collected 343 abalone 10 inches or more, held the shell of his largest catch, 11 29/32 inches. He said he found it in 1997 in 12 feet of water in Northern California. “Ten inches is a landmark, a diver`s dream,” he said. “To this day, 45 years later, when I find a 10-inch abalone, I`m thrilled.” The festive air belied an undercurrent of concern about the state of diving in abalone. The total number of legal catches in Northern California has more than halved over the past 25 years, and restrictions were further tightened in 2014. Long-time abalone divers are worried about the trend and see a day when diving is completely banned.

Some say this would be catastrophic for the region`s economy and culture, suggesting that they could make abalone more vulnerable to poaching, no less than if it were an illegal drug. Charlie Lorenz held his tools to catch the abalone in a dive bag as he prepared to slip into the water at Mendocino Headlands. Last August, Farrell`s team of armed guards from across the state conducted early morning raids on 14 homes in Sacramento, Oakland and several bay area suburbs. It was called ” Operation Oakland Abalone Syndicate “. Thirteen men, mostly Vietnamese, were charged with illegal possession of abalone, believed to be part of a black market network. In one case that Fiumara Law, PC, recently dealt with, a person was charged with sections 29.16(b)(2), 29.16(b)(3), and 29.16(d) of the California Code of Regulations, all of which are offenses. After more than half a dozen court appearances and lengthy hearings with at least two assistant district attorneys and two Sonoma County Supreme Court justices, the decision was finally made to dismiss all three charges. The defendant had to prove that he had contributed to an organization designated by the district attorney for the restoration of the abalone. This favourable decision in the case was obtained after the abalone diver agreed to surrender her fishing and abalone licence for a short period of time in order to provide evidence that no additional or new fish and game violations had been committed. Settlement negotiations will also be supported if a lawyer can prove that the abalone diver has no fish and game, abalone or other fishing offences on file. Each case is settled on a case-by-case basis based on its unique facts.

However, the best results in abalone cases are achieved through good investigative work, negotiations, and the threat of a trial with the right kind of advocacy and a conscientious environmental perspective. The guard asks if the man is taking abalone from the rocks. The man says no; He “just looks.” The guard sees the yellow handle of the screwdriver behind a rock next to a blue backpack. She looks above the rock and sees the screwdriver next to what she undoubtedly recognizes as the black abalone, an endangered species protected by the state. The shell is smooth and mostly black. The guard asks her if she can search the backpack. The man agrees. Inside, she finds a large plastic bag with five additional black abalone. Only one of the six abalons survives. The guard connects the lone survivor to a tidal rock. The remaining dead abalone is seized as evidence for the trial.

In April, the new reduced pocket limit of 3 abalone per day and 24 per year, 4 per day and 100 per year, will come into effect. State biologists predict that this change will lead to a 41% drop in care levels in 2000. The occasional abalone diver (myself included) sees a lot of legal-sized abalone and wonders why the limit had to be reduced. Chief biologist Kon Karpov of Fish and Game agrees that there are now a large number of legal abalone.” But there are not many sublegal abalone. “It`s truly an iconic species for California,” said Laura Rogers-Bennett of the University of California, Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory and senior biologist with california`s Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It is a species that is part of our fishing heritage. And due to the size of the red abalone, the largest in the world, it is reminiscent of redwood or redwood. Divers must measure abalone with a pruning tool.

Only abalone seven inches or more can be taken. The man on the phone wanted 45 abalone. The seller agreed to deliver them to San Francisco for $2,500, a reasonable wholesale price on the black market. It is the pursuit of abalone, more than anything else, that fills campsites, motor cottages and bed and breakfasts along the coast in both directions. Fort Bragg used to have thriving sawmills and commercial fishing operations. They dried up. Those who have the courage to dive deep below the surface of the water for abalone or pick through the rocks of the coast at low tide need no more than three in one day and 18 for the year. Each abalone must be at least seven inches in diameter, which means it is likely to be at least 10 years old. Each bowl must be marked and registered immediately. It cannot be resold.

The abalone season begins every year on April 1. By early May last year, four men had died in search of abalone – three of them on the same weekend, the other a week later. In two weeks, two abalone divers died near Mendocino. And on June 29, a 44-year-old man became the third victim of the season. He was sucked into an underwater cave. It took two days to recover the body because of the flood and the strong waves. Biologists examine not only the legal population, but also the sublegal and depleted areas of the ocean. Their studies have shown that there are very few small abalone and that several areas are depleted.

Surveys show that deep-water populations are reduced compared to a few years ago and that the number of abalone in the Cabrillo reserve is also lower. There is evidence of localized exhaustion in the heavily used areas in Mendocino and Sonoma. Together, these measures are indicators of a problem with the population; There may not be enough abalone to maintain the fishery once today`s legal abalone is caught.