How to Properly “Gift” Abalone

Tagged abalone may be gifted to other people but no one may possess more than three abalone (whole or portions of) at any one time. (DFG photo by Debra Hamilton)

Question: I live in Modesto and occasionally dive for abalone with friends from the Bay Area. It’s a long drive though and ends up being a long day, sometimes barely worth the set-up time and effort for just three abalone. Occasionally, I would prefer to just give my three abalone to the others in my dive group (so they can enjoy six abalone) while I drive back to Modesto and catch up on my sleep. How can I legally do this? (Carl W., Modesto)

Answer: You must tag your abalone and fill out your report card immediately upon exiting the water. Then you must keep your abalone in your possession until you officially give or “gift” them to someone else. Keep in mind that whoever you give them to is also allowed to possess only three tagged abalone, whether they have a fishing license or not. Therefore, you may not give them to your dive buddies if your abalone combined with their own puts the gift recipient over their limit of three in possession.

To make sure there are no misunderstandings along the way should your friends be asked, it’s also a good idea to write a note for them to keep with your gifted abalone while the abs are in their possession or are being transported home. The note should be dated and include your name, address, telephone and fishing license number so that the abalone can be traced back to you, if necessary.

Sale of bear illegal even if acquired out of state
For the past 25 years I have been weaving rugs using wool and hair from a variety of animals and then selling those rugs. I can obtain some bear hair from a wildlife researcher working out-of-state and want to know if it would be legal for me to use this in my weavings. (Barbara S.)

Answer: No, under California law you may not sell any part of a bear (FGC Section 4758.) The source or species of bear does not make a difference in the law in the eyes of the law – sale of any part of any bear is illegal. According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Captain (ret.) Phil Nelms, this is in fact one of the few Fish and Game crimes that can be prosecuted as a felony. Please note that it is legal for you to possess or use legally obtained bear parts for personal use. It is the sale of bear parts in any form that is prohibited

Buying your license online
When will California move into the 20th century and begin selling fishing licenses online? Every other state offers fishing licenses and stamps as well as hunting licenses and tags to be purchased online. If you forget your license and a DFG game warden checks you it is no big deal because they can verify online by computer or cell phone. (Al C.)

Answer: You will be happy to know that fishing licenses are now available for purchase online. Anyone with access to the Internet and a printer can buy and print a valid license from the convenience of their home 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and be on their way to fish minutes after logging on.

All resident and non-resident licenses, both annual and short-term, and selected stamps are now available online. Annual license buyers can expect their permanent licenses to arrive in the mail within 10 days of purchase. Non-residents may purchase a 10-day license. Stamps available include Second Rod, Sport Fishing Ocean Enhancement and Bay Delta Enhancement stamps. Report cards must still be obtained from one of the 1,800 authorized license agents throughout the state or at local DFG license sales offices.

One thing to keep in mind is if you fail to have your license in possession after purchasing one online, you are still subject to being cited by the game warden for not having the license in possession. This is the same as a traffic officer citing you for not having your driver’s license in possession even if one may have been issued to you.

Costs remain the same whether you buy your license online or from an authorized license agent.

According to Automated License Data System Program Manager Richard Reyes, hunting license purchases are scheduled to be available online by 2011.

For more information regarding online license sales or to purchase yours by Visa or MasterCard, visit our Web site at

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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

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