Bay Area Bountiful

basketA laundry basket of poached abaloneIn the current economic downturn, the lucrative black market for abalone is providing more incentive than ever for abalone poaching, which comes in a variety of forms.

If it is the black market that is driving the demand for poached abalone, then who are those buyers? California Fiosh and Game Warden Don Powers saysthey are a diverse and elusive group.

truckloadOn high traffic abalone fishing days, Fish and Game wardens will set up checkpoints on major acess roads, such as Highway 1, to seek out poachers. These enfrocment actions can result in some major interceptions, such as this one.During abalone season, the California Department of Fish and Game wardens assigned to the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts spend most of their time watching abalone divers and trying to prevent or intercept poaching. Sonoma coast warden Tiffiany Stinson describes a normal workday.

BoatloadIn addition to the wardens who patrol the coast, notes Stinson, Fish and Game also has a special unit that cocentrates on the buyers and distribution of illiegally taken abalone. But she believes their efforts are sometimes weakened by inconsistent penalties for convictions.

Northern California
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