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4 People Have Already Died This Month While Abalone Fishing

LA Times.com

With four deaths already associated with abalone fishing this April, the risk for these tasty shellfish may not be worth the price.

On the black market, someone could catch thousands of dollars worth of abalone in a single day, but is it worth it?

Even an expert diver that is willing to go abalone fishing not only risks very hefty fines and jail time, but he could pay the ultimate price. In April alone, four fishermen have already lost their lives in search of these tasty, and lucrative, shellfish.

Three of them — 49-year-old Tae Won Oh of Dublin, California; 49-year-old Hyun Kook Shin of Suwanee, Georgia; and 53-year-old Aaron Kim of Fort Lee, New Jersey — perished off the coast of Caspar, in Mendocino County on April 12, while diving with seven others. And another, Joel Falcon, 52, of El Cerrito, California, died April 21 near the town of Westport, also in Mendocino County, while “trying to climb a rocky bluff to escape a rapidly rising tide with an unidentified friend.”

Regardless of these dangerous risks, thousands of people head to northern California every year in search of abalone. Because abalone were almost overfished to extinction in the 1970s, the only way to legally fish them now is without an air tank. The legal limit is 24 abalone per person, per year, and to sell them is prohibited. Yet, on the black market, they are known to bring in well over $100 a pound.

Many gourmands consider abalone one of the finest-tasting shellfish on the earth. They prize its firm, almost crunchy texture and mild flavor.

Most of us know the dangers of commercial fishing and the deadly statistics that go with it, but four people dying in the span of one month should be a pretty strong deterrent to go abalone fishing.

Follow me on Twitter @YoBlakeO and enjoy those Wide Open Spaces… Safely!

4 People Have Already Died This Month While Abalone Fishing