Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan

CDFW is developing a recreational red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the north coast. The development of FMPs is currently governed by the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA). The purpose of the FMP is to ensure long-term management of the resource, where management is objective, transparent and more responsive and adaptive, particularly under changing environmental conditions.

CDFW is committed to developing the red abalone FMP in a transparent, objective, and accessible process, with the goal of completing an adaptive FMP framework to help ensure a sustainable and healthy abalone resource. The FMP will gather 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 those 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 fishery.

The proposed FMP will focus on the northern California recreational fishery, which was the only open abalone fishery in California until 2018. The Fish and Game Commission (FGC) 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. In the future, it may be amended to include other potential red abalone fisheries in central and southern California as they recover.

Following completion of the FMP, CDFW intends to subsequently review and make necessary changes to the portions of the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan (ARMP) that address recovery, integrating any new information that may come out of the FMP process.

The FMP development process started in 2014 with initial public scoping workshops to garner stakeholder input on recreational fishery values to help shape goals and objectives for fishery management under the new FMP. FMP development progressed to a stage of having two proposed management strategies, one by CDFW and the other by a stakeholder collaboration led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Both were presented to the FGC and were submitted for scientific peer review in 2018. As a result of the peer review, the FGC formally recommended: (1) integrating aspects of both draft management strategies, based on a simulation modeling approach co-developed by CDFW and the TNC-led stakeholder team, including engagement with abalone divers and other stakeholders; (2) revise FMP goals to allow for a de minimis fishery option; (3) develop triggers for the de minimis fishery option in consultation with stakeholders; and (4) DFW develop a proposed process and timeline which accounts for active public and MRC engagement.”

To implement FGC guidance, CDFW along with partners developed a process for management strategy integration and FMP development. This process consisted of an Administrative Team and a Project Team. The Administrative Team helped to develop, oversee, and track the entire development process, while the Project Team provided the input and advice on management strategy development, including recommendations for executing a de minimis fishery (ie. restricted access fishery). The simulation modeling to inform management strategy development was conducted by an independent contractor in consultation with CDFW and TNC scientists that developed the two proposals. Members of the peer review panel participated in the Project team discussions to provide guidance and continuity with peer review recommendations. More details on the makeup and roles of the Administrative (PDF) and Project (PDF) teams can be found in their respective charters. The management strategy integration process took place throughout 2019 with a total of six Project Team meetings. Process findings and recommendations were summarized by the Administrative Team in a report (PDF) submitted to the Commission’s MRC in March 2020.

Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan Timeline

Opportunities for public comment are listed in bold font.




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



  • Management Strategy integration process development and creation of the Administrative and Project Teams
  • March 20 – Proposed Management Strategy integration process presented to the Fish and Game Commission's MRC
  • Management Strategy Integration process project team meeting
    • May 22 – First Project Team Meeting
    • July 18 – Second Project Team Meeting
    • August 27 – Third Project Team Meeting
    • September 19 – Fourth Project Team Meeting
    • November 21 – Fifth Project Team Meeting
    • December 19 – Sixth Project Team Meeting
  • Management Strategy Integration Process Completed – December 2019



  • Adoption of Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan and CEQA by the Fish and Game Commission. Winter/spring 2021 (subject to change)
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