North Coast's Abalone Season Closed Until 2021

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Urchins blanket a rocky reef. - CYNTHIA CATTON/CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
  • Cynthia Catton/California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Urchins blanket a rocky reef.
As we wrote about in the Dec. 6 edition of the Journal, the California Fish and Game Commission has extended the closure of the North Coast’s red abalone season until April of 2021.

The board made the decision Wednesday after once again hearing there is no positive news to report about the prized mollusks’ situation, the result of what scientists are calling a “perfect storm” of ecological events.

In short, the abalone are starving, unable to compete with marauding bands of purple sea urchins that are stripping bare local reefs and once thriving undersea forests of bull kelp following the mysterious starfish wasting disease outbreak that decimated the urchins' main predator.

According to a commission release, the vote was unanimous.


"The sad news is a miracle didn't happen," Sonke Mastrup, a marine environmental manager with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, had told commissioners at their last meeting in October. "That stock has collapsed. It's going to take a long time to recover."

Read more about the plight of abalone and the unprecedented series of events that have left the North Coast’s marine environment reeling here.

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