A primary goal of fishery management under the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) is to ensure that fishing levels are sustainable and do not result in an overfished stock. The northern California populations of red abalone support a very popular local recreational fishery. While past landings (2002-2011) appear to be stable, recent declines in subtidal stocks have been recorded and the fishery is currently closed. Red abalone has several characteristics which make it vulnerable to fishing pressure and environmental fluctuations. Recent declines and concerns about changing ocean conditions have prompted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop a Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) to improve data collection and support timely management response.
Proposed management strategies to be included in an FMP is required by the MLMA to undergo external, independent peer review prior to submission to the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC). The peer review process provides CDFW, the FGC and stakeholders assurances that FMPs are based upon the best readily available scientific information.