Since the beginning of the year, CDFW wildlife officers have been working to seize undersized Pismo clams and protect them from poachers.
In San Luis Obispo County, wildlife officials say more than 12,000 undersized Pismo clams have been seized this year and officers have issued 116 citations to suspected poachers for unlawfully harvesting the clams. In Santa Cruz County, wildlife officers have issued 60 citations and seized more than 5,000 undersized Pismo clams.
Officers say many of the citations involved extreme overlimits and about 90 percent of the citations were for harvesting clams without a fishing license. When possible, wildlife officers will attempt to document where the undersized clams were taken and return those clams to the wild. Marine biologists expect it will be at least another five to 10 years before any legal-size clams are present on most beaches.
In past decades, Pismo clams were an important recreational sport fishery in California. A steep decline in the statewide Pismo clam population resulted in a dramatically reduced fishery and minimal recreational harvest. Pismo clams may still be harvested in California, in compliance with season, bag limits and size restrictions.
Recreational clam harvesters with a valid fishing license may take the maximum bag limit of 10 Pismo clams per day, as long as they meet the minimum size of 5 inches north of the San Luis Obispo/Monterey county line and 4.5 inches south of the county line.
The season is open all year, except in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties where it starts Sept. 1 and ends April 30.The current regulations are in place to allow for limited recreational take but prevent a depletion of the Pismo clam resource.
If a member of the public witnesses a poaching, wildlife trafficking or pollution incident, or has information about such a violation, immediately dial the toll free CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to CDFW using tip411. Anyone with a cell phone may send an anonymous tip to CDFW by texting "CALTIP", followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).