Transporting Gifted Abalone Out of State

To legally transport abalone they must remain in their shell with the tags still attached. (DFG photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I will be receiving a gift of some abalone steaks (frozen) which I intend to take with me on my return to Hawaii. These were legally fished off the Northern California coast. Is there any possible legal infraction for this? (Shel B.)

Answer: It is illegal to transport gifted abalone unless it is still in the shell with an abalone tag attached. California Sport Fishing laws require abalone to remain in the shell until they are being prepared for immediate consumption. “Immediate consumption” as used in this law is applied to mean “right now” or “into the frying pan” and not “later today,” for example.

Possession of abalone out of the shell (e.g. “… abalone (frozen) steaks …”) is a clear violation. In addition, when you take them to Hawaii it will be a violation of the Lacey Act, a U.S. law that prohibits taking any wildlife across state lines in violation of either state’s laws.

See sections 29.15(g) and 29.16 beginning on page 45 in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulation Booklet, available online at

If you have an opportunity to acquire legally taken and tagged abalone still in the shell, you may transport one limit (maximum of three abalone measuring seven inches or greater in diameter) with you from California but it is advised that you check with the State of Hawaii and inquire about any restrictions or requirements they have on bringing abalone into Hawaii.

Deer tagging requirements
Question: I’m getting back into deer hunting after 30 years, and realize from reading that validation is required prior to transferring a deer to my residence. What I am confused about is can I still bone it out in the field rather than drag it back whole to camp or the vehicle? If so, what are the requirements of what I must present for verification sign-off of the tag? (Don S.)

Answer: Welcome back! Hunters are required to pack out of the field all edible meat and the portion of the head which normally bears the antlers (skull cap) with the tag attached. The remainder of the skull and all inedible portions of the carcass may be discarded at the kill site. If you harvest a deer, the tag must be immediately filled out and attached to the antlers (Fish and Game Code, section 4336). The tag needs to be validated at the first available opportunity by a person authorized to validate the tag.

Although the tags are quite a bit different looking than when you quit deer hunting, the specific regulations you are asking about are relatively the same as years ago. Hunters are then required to maintain the portion of the head which normally bears the antlers with the tag attached during the open season, and for 15 days thereafter, and it must be produced upon demand to any officer authorized to enforce the regulations (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 708(3)(4) and (5) and FGC sections 4302, 4304 and 4306).

How many traps and lines for crayfish?
Question: How many traps and lines can you use while fishing for crayfish? (Brian C.)

Answer: There is no limit regarding the number of traps and lines when taking crayfish. Within the California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for 2012-2013, section 5.35 reads in part: “(c) Methods of take: Crayfish may be taken only by hand, hook and line, dip net or with traps not over three feet in greatest dimension. Any other species taken shall be returned to the water immediately. Traps need not be closely attended.”

Every person 16 years and older is required to have a current Sport Fishing License to take all fish, including crayfish.

Shotgun shell clarification
Question: I know that .00 buck shot shells can only be used to take deer in special areas and cannot be used for big game, like for bear and pigs. For big game like bear, pigs and deer (outside special areas), only slugs or sabot can be used. Recently, I saw a type of .12 gauge shot shells available at Big 5 that is a combination shot shell, which includes a rifled slug with three .00 buck packed together in a shell. Can this type of ammo be used for deer, pigs and bears? (Tim L.)

Answer: No, the shot shell you describe that combines a rifled slug and buckshot is not legal for taking wild pigs in California. Shotguns firing rifled slugs may be used for wild pigs, but not buck shot.

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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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