Abalone Scouts

(Photo: DFG photo by Marine Biologist Derek Stein)
Scuba cannot be used to aid in the take of abalone in any way other than for the diver to come ashore and say, "hey, I saw a lot of big abalone out there!"

Question: Let’s say a free-diver who is looking for abalone and a scuba diver want to dive together. Would it be legal for the scuba diver to help the free-diver find abalone by marking locations so that the free-diver can more easily locate the abalone? I am assuming that the divers do not have scuba and abalone in the same boat. I think this is a breach of the spirit of the law and unsportsmanlike, but I don’t think it is covered specifically in the laws. (Anonymous)

Answer: It is not legal for scuba to be used in any manner in the pursuit or take of abalone. “Take means hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill,” (FGC Section 86) and the use of scuba gear or surface-supplied air to take abalone is prohibited (CCR Title 14 Section 29.15[e]).

Thus, according to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Lt. Dennis McKiver, this means a scuba diver may not assist another in the pursuit and take of abalone. If someone is using scuba gear to find (“hunt or pursue or attempt to hunt or pursue”) abalone and then marking those abalone with a physical buoy or Global Positioning System location so that a diver can more easily return to the location to take the abalone, this falls under the definition of “take.”

It doesn’t matter if the scuba diver is marking the location with a surface marker buoy, scuba air bubbles or is coming to the surface to point out the location to his free-diving buddy; it would all still fall under the definition of “take.” Scuba cannot be used to aid in the take of abalone in any way other than for the diver to come ashore and say, “Hey, I saw a lot of big abalone out there!”

Do Hunting Guides Need to be Licensed?
Do hunting guides have to have a license or is there a course you need to go through to become a hunting guide? (Billy S.)

Answer: Guides do need to be licensed but there are no courses or tests one must take to become a hunting guide. “Guide” means any person who is engaged in the business of packing or guiding, or who, for compensation, assists another person in taking or attempting to take any bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, or reptile. “Guide” also includes any person who, for profit, transports other persons, their equipment, or both to or from hunting or fishing areas.

The basic requirements are to first fill out the DFG guide license application and pay the license fees. Current cost of an annual resident guide’s license runs $188.75. Employees of the guide who assist in the service are also required to have a guide employee registration license that costs $41.50.

Guides may not have any DFG violations in their past. People with DFG-related violations may have their guide license applications denied, and those already with guides licenses may have theirs revoked.

The last requirement is for the guide to purchase and maintain a “performance bond.” The bond is to protect the clients and assure that any deposit money a guide receives from a client to reserve a future trip will be returned to the client in the event that the guide cancels and tries to keep the deposit.

Ammunition and Hunting Restrictions
When someone is out turkey hunting – and they also have a pig tag – in addition to their shotgun shells for turkeys, can they legally have a slug on their person so that they can shoot a pig with the same gun? (Terri S.)

Answer: No, this would not be legal because turkeys and pigs have two different allowable methods of take. Pigs are allowed to be taken with shotgun slugs but turkeys may only be taken by shotguns 10 gauge or smaller while in possession of shot size no larger than No. 2 shot. This means that the two animals have different ammunition restrictions, so the hunters may not possess a shotgun slug while turkey hunting.

Methods authorized for taking big game (wild pig) include shotgun slugs, rifle bullets, pistol and revolver bullets, bow and arrow and crossbow (2008-2009 Mammal Hunting Regulation booklet, pg 16 Section 353).

Methods of take for resident small game (wild turkey) are shotguns 10 gauge or smaller. Shotgun shells may not be used or possessed that contain shot size larger than No. BB, except that shot size larger than No. 2 may not be used or possessed when taking wild turkey (2008-2009 Upland Game Hunting Regulation booklet, pg 15, Section 311(b)).

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

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