Vincent Chio Falo has been scouring the ocean for bait since he was young, documenting his experiences on social media and turning them into seaside delicacies.
“For me, it’s all about wild food foraging.” Chio Falo said. “Healthy food that’s economic and ecological. And clamming specifically is really nice because it’s easy. “
But while Chio Falo adheres to the rules, not everyone does.
Much like the three people that police say were caught last week in Pismo Beach, with 120 undersized clams.
“Most people are not aware of the rules,” Chio Falo said.
Here are the ground rules:
- Clammers must have a valid fishing license and a rigid measuring device
- Pismo clams must measure at least 4 1/2″ to be taken
- Undersized clams must be immediately reburied two inches deep
- The bag limit is 10 clams
- Clamming hours are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset
Fines for undersized clams can be up to $170 each, depending on the size and where they were collected.
Pismo Beach police tell me that if a ranger doesn’t spot an illegal clammer, locals likely will, increasing the chances of getting caught.
“The community around here is really proud of their beach, and they want to keep it safe,” Sergeant Kyle White with Pismo Beach PD said.
At Cal Poly, the Marine Conservation Lab has been studying clam growth for almost a decade. After a slow period, they’ve observed recent growth.
“They are growing and persisting on the beach.” Marissa Bills, a Cal Poly biology graduate student said. “But to kind of prove anything more than that, It really does take many years of data. So we’re sort of right now laying the foundation to better-understanding things in the future.“
Bills explains that clams take up to 12 years to reach harvesting size. By clammers following the rules, they hope to see continued growth.
“We want to make sure that they’re at least getting those first 12 years of life on Pismo Beach, getting big, having as many clam babies as possible before they get taken to become somebodies chowder,” Bills says.