#1 “Is this good to eat?”

A diver comes aboard with some animal from the bottom they think might make good seafood. But they have no idea what it is, what the fish and game regulations are, how to prepare it, or even if it is edible. The only thing worse than this (and only slightly) is intentional illegal destruction of the marine environment. If we are lucky, the animal can be replaced on the bottom unharmed. More often that not, however, it has been stabbed, speared or harmed in such a way that if it cannot be taken for food. It will be wasted.

#2 “Is this legal sized?”

Again, a diver climbs aboard a boat, holds up their catch and asks this question.

What? You don’t know? Virtually all California Fish and Game laws for invertebrates require game be measured in the water. And for fish, you should know the minimum size, be able to estimate it underwater, and then, when in doubt, don’t shoot! Ignorance is not an excuse.

#3 “Is this too many?”

If it is too many, it is likely too late. You have probably already killed your “extras” or damaged them so badly that they cannot be returned to the ocean. And, no, don’t ask me to take your surplus.

#4 “Can you hide this so Fish & Game won’t find it?”

Man overboard! Does any body know how to keel haul?

At least one dive store I know of (Reef Seekers, Beverly Hills) now has a zero-tolerance policy on the illegal take of game and marine life. You do it, they call Fish & Game. Ignorance is not an excuse. Know the law (including the preserves), follow it to the letter and nearly as important, hunt with a spirit of ethics. Do not take more than you, yourself (or your family) can consume in one day. Know how to cook anything you catch and consume all you catch. Do not strip a reef clean of a species. Leave something behind for future generations.