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Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is developing a red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the north coast. The development of fishery management plans is currently governed by the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA). The purpose of developing an FMP for red abalone is to further refine and implement the long-term management objectives in the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan (ARMP). 

Abalone fishery management under the ARMP is divided into two phases of adaptive management: the interim management plan, which the fishery is currently managed under, and the long-term management plan. The interim plan adaptively manages the northern California fishery as a single unit on a highly precautionary basis. The ARMP objective is to move the fishery into long-term management, where management is locally based, more responsive and adaptive, and less precautionary in nature.

During recent abalone fishery regulation changes in 2011 and 2013, CDFW received significant support from the public and the Fish and Game Commission regarding the transition of the fishery from interim management to long-term management. CDFW began this transition by initially asking for link opens in new windowan independent technical review of its survey methods for estimating red abalone density (PDF). Monitoring abalone density is a major component of the adaptive management approach used in interim management of the recreational red abalone fishery. Density is a measure of abalone abundance in terms of the number of abalone per a given area, usually expressed as the number of abalone per square meter. The link opens in new windowCalifornia Ocean Science Trust conducted the independent review for CDFW and convened a science advisory committee that produced a link opens in new windowtechnical review report (PDF). The report and the recommendations of the science advisory committee will guide further development of long-term management.

The proposed FMP will focus on the northern California recreational fishery, which was the only open fishery until 2018. In the future, it may be amended to include other potential fisheries in central and southern California as they recover. The Fish and Game Commission in late 2017 took action to close the fishery for 2018 due to ongoing extreme environmental conditions that has severely affected the red abalone resource. The reopening of the fishery will be determined by the new FMP. CDFW intends to review and make necessary changes to the portions of the ARMP that address recovery once the FMP is completed to integrate any new information that may come out of the FMP process. 

CDFW, in developing this red abalone FMP, is committed to making the process transparent, objective, and accessible to all, with the ultimate goal of completing an adaptable FMP that will ensure a sustainable and healthy abalone resource. The FMP will be a framework document that gathers the best available scientific information on the natural history of red abalone, its fisheries (both current and historical), the economic conditions under which they operate, and the effects of the fisheries on the marine ecosystem. The FMP will review fishery management methods used in abalone fisheries in other parts of the world, and examine any other conservation and management measures that should be considered for the sustainability of the resource and its fisheries.

Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan Timeline

Opportunities for public comment are listed in bold font.

2014

2015

2016

  • The Nature Conservancy/CDFW Collaborative Harvest Control Rule Workshop
  • Drafting of the Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan
  • Refine Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan and Updates to the Marine Resources Committee of the Fish and Wildlife Commission

2017

  • 2017 Abalone Fishing Survey
  • Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan Drafting and Updates to the Marine Resources Committee of the Fish and Game Commission Continues

2018

  • Phase II Public Discussions (RAAC), Tribal Consult: Draft Management Framework Review & Listening, cont.*
  • link opens in new windowCEQA Update (PDF)
  • 2018 Sport Abalone Fishing Survey
  • Draft Red Abalone Fishery Management Framework to Fish and Game Commission 
  • Scientific/Peer Review*
  • Draft Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan Completed
  • Refine Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan
  • Final Draft of Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan and CEQA to the Fish and Game Commission for Approval Process
  • Regulation Changes (APA)

* Phase II Workshops and Scientific/Peer Review may be conducted concurrently


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