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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). 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 process to long term management by initially asking for link opens in new windowan independent technical review of its survey methods for estimating red abalone density (PDF). 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. Monitoring abalone density is a major component of the adaptive management approach used in interim management of the recreational red abalone fishery. 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 serve as the basis for further development of long term management.

The development of fishery management plans is governed by the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA). The abalone management statute that created the ARMP preceded the MLMA statute and thus has been on a separate but parallel track to the MLMA. CDFW is using the process of further developing and implementing the ARMP's long term management strategy as an opportunity to meld the ARMP and the MLMA statutes together by proposing the development of a separate FMP for red abalone.

The proposed FMP will ultimately cover fisheries management for all red abalone stocks in California. However, the initial focus will be on the northern California recreational fishery, which is the only open fishery at this time. The FMP will be revised in the future to potentially include other red abalone fisheries as those stocks recover and become eligible for a fishery. The recovery of red abalone south of the current open fishery area, as well as other abalone species, will still be covered by the recovery portion of the ARMP. 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 abalone resource and healthy fisheries. 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 FMP timeline

Opportunities for public comment are listed in bold font.



  • Angler Survey
  • Frame Opportunities & Goals
  • Draft Fishery Management Plan Completed
  • CEQA Update
  • Phase II Workshops, Tribal Consult: Draft Plan Review & Listening


  • Phase II Workshops, Tribal Consult: Draft Plan Review & Listening, cont.*
  • Scientific/Peer Review *
  • Refine Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan
  • Final Draft of 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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Marine Region (Region 7)
Regional Manager: Dr. Craig Shuman
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