Recreational Red Abalone Fishery Peer Review

Background on the Recreational Red Abalone Fishery

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.

Peer Review Scope: Two Proposed Management Strategies

Currently, there are two proposed management strategies for consideration for a Recreational Red Abalone FMP:

  1. management strategy proposed by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)
  2. stakeholder submitted management strategy, led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

Ocean Science Trust (OST), with support from the Ocean Protection Council (OPC), has been requested by the FGC and CDFW, to coordinate an external, independent peer review of the two proposed management strategies.

Peer Review Process

  1. Select a review mode. A remote meeting review process was selected in consultation with CDFW, TNC and the OPC to promote core review principles.
  2. Assemble peer review panel. OST will convene a diverse 6-8 member review panel composed of OPC Science Advisory Team member(s) and other experts (list of peer reviewers below).
  3. Conduct review. CDFW and TNC will engage directly with reviewers at the outset, providing two-way interaction. The review will then proceed via a series of webinars, where the review panel will meet independently maintaining candid and independent assessment.
  4. Stakeholder engagement. OST will circulate a request for stakeholders to share science-based questions about the proposed management strategies and the related peer review process. Questions will be considered and become the foundation for a webinar discussion with the peer review panel, which will be held in mid-August (details below).
  5. Develop and share final report. Reviewers will contribute to the development of a final summary report, which will be made available online once final.
  6. Stakeholder webinar to share peer review report. A public webinar will be held at the close of the review to share results of the peer review. A subset of the peer review panel will present on their findings and be available to answer questions. Additional details below.

Engagement Opportunities

To help complete the peer review process, OST is interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the red abalone fishing community’s scientific questions, as well as share information about the peer review approach. The following engagement opportunities are being planned over the coming weeks to support this information exchange (please check back to this webpage for updated details, including webinar dates):

  • Final Peer Review Report Q&A Webinar: In early October, we will host a second webinar focused on sharing the completed peer review report and answering questions about final recommendations.
  • Webinar agenda

Community engagement webinar 

  • Solicitation of Stakeholder Questions and Priorities: Stakeholders are invited to submit their science-based questions about the proposed management strategies and the related peer review process.
  • Public Webinar with the Peer Review Panel: Members of the red abalone fishing community, the peer review panel, CDFW, The Nature Conservancy, and interested members of the public are invited to discuss the questions submitted by stakeholders (see above), provide clarifications, and outline timeline considerations beyond the peer review. A high-level summary of stakeholder questions submitted and responses from the webinar will be included in the final peer review report and made available to CDFW to inform the FMP process.

Additional Resources

Terms of Reference – This is the peer review process design and approach as agreed to by OST, CDFW, and TNC

Reviewer Instructions– These are the more detailed reviewer instructions, based upon the high level Terms of Reference.

Follow up requests for data and information. This document lists the follow-up questions and data requests submitted to both teams to date. OST will update should there be additional requests submitted to either team.

Management Strategies Under Review:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife submitted management strategy

TNC-led, stakeholder submitted management strategy



  • Dr. Jason Cope, NOAA Fisheries, co-chair
  • Dr. Pete Raimondi, co-chair
  • Dr. Gavin Fay, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
  • Dr. Yan Jiao, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Dr. Karina Nielsen, San Francisco State University
  • Dr. Brian Tissot, Humboldt State University
  • Dr. Will White, Oregon State University
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