Abalone Season Opens on Baja’s mid-Pacific Coast
by Shari Bondy
Abalone season and fishing opened in April, much to the delight of the fishermen and the villages as it gives a big boost to the local economy here. The fishing cooperativas in this area have very successful fisheries for abalone and lobster and the towns relies on it.
My husband Juan is an “abulonero” (abalone fisherman) and there are 12 pangas that fish abalone in his fishing cooperative. They have a sustainable quota and each boat brings in about 100 legal size abalone a day. There are 3 fishermen to each panga, one boatman who man’s the ars to keep the panga in position and off the rocks, the tender who looks after the diver and the compressor and the diver who uses a hooka hose breathing system. The abalone are sorted on the panga, offloaded to the cannery where they are processed & canned. They are trucked to Ensenada where they are shipped to the Orient and the shells sold as well.
A can of grade A abalone is about $80.oo US and the edges they trim off from the abalone are made into a delicious sausage and sold locally in the co-op store.
This part of Baja’s coast is one of the last remaining places on earth that has a healthy abalone population that can be commercially fished sustainably. The fishing cooperativas invest a lot of money and effort into protecting this valuable resource by maintaining clean water and 24/7 “vigilancia” which is a patrol by land and sea to prevent poaching. It is a federal crime for anyone except coop fishermen to take any abalone or lobster in the area and punishable by several years in jail. If a visitor wants to buy abalone or lobster, one must get it from the cooperativas along with a receipt saying you bought it there.
While Baja is suffering from a serious downturn in tourism, luckily our village is thriving because of the excellent fishery we have here. So come and visit and try some of our delectable fresh seafood!…I’m off to have some abalone burgers for lunch!
Writer Shari Bondy owns the La Bufadora Inn in Bahia Asuncion, and welcomes visitors to come learn about her region!
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