If it is the black market that is driving the demand for poached abalone, then who are those buyers? California Fiosh and Game Warden Don Powers saysthey are a diverse and elusive group.
During abalone season, the California Department of Fish and Game wardens assigned to the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts spend most of their time watching abalone divers and trying to prevent or intercept poaching. Sonoma coast warden Tiffiany Stinson describes a normal workday.
In addition to the wardens who patrol the coast, notes Stinson, Fish and Game also has a special unit that cocentrates on the buyers and distribution of illiegally taken abalone. But she believes their efforts are sometimes weakened by inconsistent penalties for convictions.