Q: What is the definition of a boat or vessel? I ask because I am altering an old water-ski kneeboard into a specialized abalone diving rig with a small anchor so I can accurately place my board closer to abalone. It’s a smaller version of a surfboard. It has no sails, rudders, oars or motor, but it does have an anchor. The anchor will be a marker for me to follow down on my next breath. I am wondering, though, if by adding this anchor I am making it into what will be construed to be a vessel? (Devin G.)
A: There is no prohibition against using a kneeboard instead of a float tube, which is much more common for abalone. A diver may use an anchor on a float tube or kneeboard if they choose to, but most just tie a line to a piece of kelp to keep the tube in place. What you describe is a legal device to access an abalone diving spot as long as you are not using SCUBA equipment. A kneeboard would not be considered a boat or vessel so you will not need to tag your abalone and fill out your card until you return to shore.
Retaining Just One Claw When Crabbing?
Q: Our fishing club is planning a fishing trip for local crab out of the Santa Monica Bay area. Some people in the group insist we should only keep one claw from each crab so they can be put back to grow another claw and still live. I know with lobsters we are instructed to leave them whole until they are ready for consumption to allow the game warden to verify it’s a legal catch. Is it legal to keep only one claw, or do we need the entire crab to allow the game warden to verify? (Jerry E.)
A: You are required to take the whole legal-sized crab to prove your crab is of legal size. Possessing just claws would be a violation because the size of the crabs they came from cannot be determined (Fish and Game Code, section 5508). Crabs also carry a lot of meat in the body. Crab season for all crabs of the genus Cancer (except Dungeness crabs) is open all year. The size limit in Southern California is 4 inches and the part of the crab that we measure is the main body shell (edge of shell to edge of shell at the widest part).
While crabs may be able to regenerate lost claws under good conditions, crabs with only one claw have a far tougher time fending off predators than if they had both claws for protection. Predators will go after any weakened animal, so just removing a claw may be considered a waste of fish — also a state violation.
Two-Day Nonresident Hunting License to Shoot Pigs?
Q: My friend is coming to California soon, and I’d like to take him out pig hunting. Since we’ll have only a couple of days available to hunt, can he just purchase a two-day nonresident license to cover him on the days we hunt? It seems like a waste to buy a full license for only a few days of hunting. (Jared H., Coalinga)
A: Unfortunately, no. The two-day hunting license is only valid for taking resident small game and nongame birds/mammals and is not valid for big game species in California. Your friend would be required to buy an annual nonresident license and a current nonresident wild pig tag.
Q: I have a coastal/waterway access question. If a stream with a state highway marker goes under the Pacific Coast Highway and into a beached cove, can I walk down the center of the stream to the ocean and go for a swim? The land surrounding the stream is private, and the landowners would like to assert that no access to the cove is allowed, even from a boat. (Mike Pinkerton)
A: In California land is deeded under flowing stream channels, so you would be trespassing. If the land is posted with no trespassing signs at intervals every third of a mile, fenced or under cultivation you could be cited for this violation (Penal Code, section 602.8). The water you described is state water and as long as you were floating on the water, such as in a boat, there would be no violation.
— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Game. She can be reached at email@example.com.