Abalone Diving is Inherently Dangerous and All Precautions MUST be Taken!

By April 17, 2015 August 31st, 2020 Criminal Defense

The chilly coastal waters off of Mendocino and Sonoma Counties are known as some of the best red abalone fields in the world, with some of the mollusks reaching 10” in diameter.  Many of the fields with the biggest abalone though are wedged in rugged rocky areas that often get pounded by huge waves—making abalone diving even more treacherous!
Unfortunately, this past weekend an abalone hunt along the Mendocino coast turned deadly for a group of friends when three of them drowned in the rocky waters off Caspar Cove. This latest incident underscores the danger of diving for the treasured mollusks under less than ideal weather conditions.
This episode marked the first deaths of this year’s red abalone season which began in California on April 1, 2015 and is often characterized by a host of emergency rescues and occasional fatalities as in this case.
Though dangerous, diving along the Sonoma County and Mendocino coast line is popular among adventure-seekers in search of the rare delicacy, red abalone.  This chewy mollusk is typically pounded until it is tender, given a light breading and sautéed.  Because it cannot be commercially fished, abalone is considered a rare treat and lures many divers to the north coast every year.  If they are not careful with the way they pry the mollusks off the rocks, they can also be cited by the Fish and Game Wardens, but worse, in this case three men lost their lives over this past weekend.
abalone law
Abalone are regulated by the California State Department of Fish and Wildlife, which limits hunters/divers who cannot use dive tanks to only 18 abalone per year and 3 per outing.  Divers use an abalone iron, a dull spatula-type wedge, to pry the snail-like creatures off the rocks before it can clamp down.  Divers who follow proper safety precautions are not normally at risk of dying but they can be fined pretty heavily for improper diving and other inconsistencies with the very complex fish and wildlife rules and regulations.  However, divers are not normally at risk for fatalities unless they do not pay attention to the rapidly changing oceanic conditions.  There is no sport or adventure so important as to lose your life or to be heavily fined and jailed and abalone hunting/diving should not be any exception.
We urge everyone who makes the trek to the Sonoma and or Mendocino coasts to not only pay attention to the turbulent and unpredictable waves, surf, and riptides but to the rapidly changing conditions that make this a terribly dangerous sport.  In addition, the myriad of rules and regulations that have been promulgated by the State Department of Fish and Game need to be precisely followed or abalone divers risk very stiff fines of up to $10,000 and jail sentences up to six months for misdemeanors and additional jail time for felony or repeat offenses.
If anyone has any questions about any citation or arrest pertaining to abalone diving during their vacation and adventure to  the Sonoma and or Mendocino County Coast, please call abalone attorneys in Santa Rosa at 707-571-8600 and we would be happy to meet with you for a free and confidential consultation.

Michael A. Fiumara

About Michael A. Fiumara

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