SANTA CRUZ (AP) — California wildlife officials are recommending the 2018 season for red abalone fishing be shut down due to concerns about declining populations.

The Mercury News reports Wednesday the California Department of Fish and Wildlife made the recommendation after a survey revealed 37 percent of all abalone recorded were dead.

Fish and Game Commission will make the final decision Thursday at a meeting in San Diego.

Fish and Wildlife senior scientist Laura Roger-Bennett says shells empty or filled with decaying flesh littered the seafloor and that the outlook for the abalone is bleak

The mollusks are being affected by a massive kelp die-off. Red abalone feed on kelp and cannot reproduce as easily when facing starvation.

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