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Northern California Recreational Red Abalone Fishery Closed Until 2026

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Anglers are being reminded that the Northern California recreational red abalone fishery will remain closed for the next five years.

Spring is normally the start of the season but red abalone stocks continue to be affected by the collapse of the bull kelp forest, which is their primary food, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement.

The state Fish and Game Commission closed the fishery in 2017 and in December extended the closure until April 1, 2026.

The department said large-scale conditions that led to depressed abalone stocks include a massive marine heat wave and El Nino in 2014-2016, extinction of the local population of sunflower sea stars due to disease and the expansion of the purple sea urchin population.

"The result was a major shift from a robust healthy bull kelp forest ecosystem to one dominated by sea urchins with little kelp or other algae," the department said. "Such conditions lead to starvation and mass mortalities of abalone, which need kelp to survive."

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