In recent years, steadily increasing demand for sea cucumbers worldwide prompted California sea cucumber dive fishermen to increase their fishing effort to supply this growing market.
However, beginning in 2014 – 2015, unfavorable oceanographic conditions, commonly known as the ‘warm blob’ of water in the Pacific, coincided with several years of above-average fishing pressure on California’s Warty Sea Cucumber resource, leading to a sharp decline in sea cucumber catches, or landings.
The resultant alarming drop in the amount of sea cucumber harvested prompted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to propose regulatory changes meant to safeguard the sea cucumber dive fishery against overfishing and prevent the kind of resource depletion that had already been seen in many other sea cucumber fisheries around the world.
It was at this critical juncture, that concerned divers made a grassroots effort to work with the DFW to have a voice in the future management of California’s sea cucumber dive fishery.
Together, sea cucumber fishermen, and scientists from the DFW charted a collaborative route towards achieving sustainability within the fishery through a joint approach to sea cucumber fishery management.
It took much back and forth discussion, data analysis, surveys, and meetings, before sea cucumber fishermen and DFW scientists reached a compromise that both parties agreed would put the fishery on a path to long-term sustainability.
Through this collaborative process however, it quickly became apparent to both fishermen, and fisheries managers, that this was just the beginning of sea cucumber fishery management in California, and more work remained to be done.
It was at this time that the Resource Legacy Fund (RLF) generously offered their support for the formation of an official sea cucumber divers’ association, by providing the catalyst in the form of a grant.
Soon thereafter, the California Sea Cucumber Divers’ Association (CSCDA) was officially formed by a united group of commercial sea cucumber dive fishermen based out of Southern California.
Today, the CSCDA is a voluntary, self-funded, non-profit organization ran by California sea cucumber divers.
Our goals are simple: to work with fisheries managers and scientists to further the research and data collection necessary for improving management of the sea cucumber fishery, to educate the general public, sea cucumber processors, consumers, and other sea cucumber fishermen about the many uses and benefits of California sea cucumbers and the importance of this historic and unique fishery, and most importantly, to advocate in all ways possible to ensure and enhance the long-term sustainability and commercial viability of California’s sea cucumber resource.