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Outdoors Q&A: Using Scuba Gear to Photograph Abalone Divers

Taking such pictures is legal, as long as a couple of regulations are followed

Q: I would like to photograph abalone divers diving, but I need to use an air tank to obtain the imagery I want. How can I go about this without getting in trouble with the Department of Fish & Game? (Andrew B., Salt Lake City, Utah)

Carrie Wilson
Carrie Wilson

A: It is legal for you to photograph abalone free-divers while you are using a tank, as long as you observe a couple of regulations.

According to DFG associate marine biologist Ed Roberts, the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(e) prohibits the use of scuba gear or surface-supplied air while taking abalone. If you are using a tank while photographing abalone free-divers, you can’t assist them with taking abalone. You can’t help them pop abalone off the rocks, or spot abalone for them, or do anything else that could be construed as giving assistance in taking abalone.

In addition, under this section, the possession of abalone is prohibited aboard a vessel that also contains scuba gear or surface supplied air. This means you will have to use a separate boat. You can’t board the same boat the abalone free-divers are using while you’re using scuba gear.

Can Mice Be Used as Bait?

Q: Is it legal to use mice as bait for stripers and bass? (Chris M.)

A: Despite the fact that there are many artificial lures on the market that look like mice, real mice may not be used in inland waters. Only legally acquired and possessed invertebrates, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians (except salamanders), fish eggs, and treated and processed foods may be used for bait (CCR Title 14, section 4.00). In ocean waters, there are no restrictions on using mice as bait for stripers.

Are 12-Gauge BB Shotgun Shells Considered Nonlead?

Q: Are 12-gauge BB shotgun shells considered nonlead? Am I able to hunt coyotes with them in the lead-free area? I have not been able to get a clear answer to this question and others regarding the lead-free area. Per regulations, wardens are able to confiscate ammunition from hunters, but can I really be fined for using the wrong ammo if there is no clear information available? Which portion of the law allows items (including muzzle-loading rifles) to be confiscated under suspicion of shooting leaded bullets? I am not trying to get around the law, but I want to understand it so I don’t get in trouble by accident. It seems the law is not well-defined and has caused much confusion. (Colin K.)

A: Yes, they are considered lead. No, you can’t use them in the lead-free area.

The California Fish and Game Commission defines a “projectile” as any bullet, ball, sabot, slug, buckshot or other device that is expelled from a firearm through a barrel by force. It is illegal to use any projectile that contains more than 1 percent lead for hunting big game or nongame within the affected area. This includes center-fire as well as black powder/muzzle-loader and rim-fire projectiles. Additionally, for hunting nongame, “shot” and “pellets” are considered projectiles, and lead in those projectiles is prohibited as well.

Shot made from any material other than lead (e.g., steel, bismuth or other nontoxic substances) are not prohibited by this law and may be used in the lead-free zone to take coyotes and other wildlife as authorized in the regulations.

Game wardens are authorized to seize not only ammunition but any other item (including firearms, vehicles, clothing, game, etc.) that may be necessary for evidence in court. The authority to seize evidence is not found in the Fish and Game Code but is found within various federal and state laws and court decisions regarding arrest, search and seizure.

Click here for nonlead ammunition zone information. The site is frequently updated with new information. The site also contains answers to many commonly asked questions, such as your question regarding the use of BB-size shot.

Are Treble Hooks Legal for Rockfish?

Q: Is it legal to use a treble hook while fishing for rockfish south of the 40.10 line? (Kevin M.)

A: Yes. You may use no more than two hooks (a hook is a single hook, or a double or treble hook with multiple points connected to a common shank) and one line (CCR Title14, section 28.55 (d)). If, however, you have salmon on board, then you may only fish with salmon gear. Salmon gear consists of no more than two singsingle point, single shank barbless hooks when fishing for salmon or when salmon are on board (CCR Title14, section 27.80 (a)(2)).

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Game. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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