I heard the estimate was more on the order of 15 years. For now I'd say don't spend too much time thinking about it.
I wouldn't be so pessimistic about it though. We've seen a lot of estimates for fishery recoveries that are way out of bounds. Cowcod was supposed to be rebuilt in 2090 or somthing, it's been provisionally declared rebuilt already. And that was a similar situation in that they are both highly reduced, relatively slow-growing species that need to form large groups to have effective spawning.
Abalone didn't get reduced by human actions as far as we can tell. If these bad conditions were very common, or tended to last too long, especially since before human settlement, otters would've been eating them by the truckload too, then the abalone wouldn't have existed to this day. In all liklihood, this is an anomalous event that will at some point resolve back to a healthy ab population. We don't know if that'll be in 5 years, 15, or your grandkids' lives, unfortunately.
They used to be all over the coast and the Channel Islands between San Diego on up the coast..... The populations collapsed down here back in the early 90s and F&G shut down the fishery south of the Golden Gate Bridge.... that was 30 years ago..... except for Santa Cruz Island (which has what seems to be a healthy population) Abalone South of San Francisco are pretty much non existent...
Abalone are significantly different than fish..... their reproduction depends on an existing population in close proximity in any given area....The eggs and sperm are released into the water during certain time. It takes a lot of abalone eggs in a small area to get fertilized and the eggs don't tend to drift very far.... and if they do conditions need to be pretty specific for them to survive. Once a population in any area collapses in that area they wont be back unless they get intentionally restocked in large numbers by humans.
I hate to sound so pessimistic but based on the folks I've talked to over the years I'm pretty convinced once they are gone they won't be back in any numbers large enough to allow sportfishing.
Kidding aside, I can tell you precisely why there are practically no abs left where there used to be plenty like norcal/so oregon. You can thank canadian salmon farming for this. In a nutshell they farm atlantic salmon feedlot style in high density net pens in the inlets. These fish literally live in their own shit and are fed anitbiotic and antifungal treated feed pellets to control disease. As a result some kind of virus or bacteria emerged from their goo which started infecting and killing off the starfish in the area.
The first recorded starfish wasting disease was found right on the canadian/washington border. And over a few years it spread all the way to baja. Its not fucking climate change global warming japanese radiation. It is is a product of disease cause by high density fish farming.
The seastars eat urchins which eat kelp. Once the seastars died off the urchins decimated the kelp and the poor abs starved to death.
The good news is it appears that the seastars are on the comeback as the disease cycle is now on the downslope of the curve.
All I can say it is the purple urchin that is causing the Abalone not being able to be harvested. There are no commercial value for them as they at time come up empty with no roe ( gonads) in them. If you guys want abalone. Farm is the way to go at time.
Not really. I have about 20 years around mariculture. Diseases get spawned, they hit and then disappear. And then new ones pop up. sanitation is the key to keeping diseases in check whihc dont happen with salmon net farming. In the case of the starfish disease it originated where there was massive waste pollution for salmon farming. it cannot be proven but the circumstances are overwhelming. those operations are the arkansas hog farms of the sea.
Only one thing caused the urchin population to explode which is that its main predator, the starfish, died off en masse. All the rest which happened, kelp abs etc, is an effect of this.
Our local crabbers used to be plagued by starfish getting in the pots to the tune of 50 in each one. And then for some years they got none. Now they are getting starfish back but in lesser quantities. This is a good sign. We are also seeing more bull kelp now than a few years back. We have no money allocated for ab studies and the fisheries dept wont allow the public to help with surveys.
for sure the ocean is a huge ecosystem.. beg to differ but in many instances 'one thing' can cause a domino effect. look at the urchin virus in the caribbean in the 80's. oh and how about the lionfish in the atlantic?!