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DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME: ABALONE SURVEY TEAMS OUT FOR THE COUNT

 SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Survey teams from the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) are set to check central and north coast abalone divers and shore-pickers during the next low tide to find out how California's abalone populations are doing, the department said today.
 On May 7 and 8, survey teams will fan out in four coastal counties to interview abalone divers and shore-pickers and count the number of abalone being taken. Popular areas on the coasts of Humboldt, Mendocino, San Mateo and Sonoma counties will be visited by the state marine biologists. The sites have served as index stations for abalone surveys by the department since 1975, affording the state-specific places from which to gather long-term data of California's abalone populations.
 Information from the surveys is provided to the State Fish and Game Commission by the department every two years. Abalone fishing seasons and regulations proposed by the department are based partly on the field surveys of the popular marine gastropods by state marine biologists.
 Besides creel counts, state abalone survey teams will ask divers and shore-pickers how many undersized abalone they returned, the time it took them to land their catch or limit, the county they came from and similar questions. State biologists will time their beachside visits to peak hours of minus tide activity.
 Red abalone are the most prevalent species found in waters off northern and central beaches. Other species include lesser numbers of pinto, flat and the rare black abalone.
 Abalone become more accessible during low tides, and abalone hunters often flock to beaches in droves at such times. Divers and shore- pickers wielding state-required abalone irons and measuring calipers can take up to four abalone per day north of Yankee Point in Monterey County, and two abalone daily south of Yankee Point. Abalone hunters cannot possess more abalone than the state daily bag limit at any time. Abalone must be retained attached to the shell until ready to prepare for consumption.
 The daily bag limit can contain any combination of abalone species. Minimum size limits for red abalone is seven inches, five inches for black abalone and four inches for pinto and flat of abalone. Measurements are taken across the shell's widest part. Abalone hunters should consult DFG sport fishing regulation booklets for more information.
 Divers and shore-pickers are advised to check and monitor any changing weather conditions during their searches for abalone. According to the department, two abalone hunters drowned earlier this year off northern California beaches.
 -0- 5/3/93
 /CONTACT: Pete Weisser or Lanny Clavecilla, Conservation Education Office of the Department of Fish and Game, 916-653-6420/


CO: California Department of Fish and Game ST: California IN: SU:

GT-TM -- SF019 -- 4023 05/03/93 17:33 EDT
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Date:May 3, 1993
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