Abalone Regulations

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Abalone Regulations were first put into place in 1901 with the minimum 15-inch around the edge of the shell regulation for all species taken. In 1907 commercial diving for abalone was prohibited statewide. In 1909, however, commercial diving with licenses was permitted. Closed seasons began in 1911, and through the decades additional regulations were enacted in California regarding size limits for various species, area closures, gear, etc. In 1921 abalone drying was prohibited, but this restriction was again permitted in 1970.

By 1939, commercial divers were required to carry a measuring device, and by 1943, commercial diving permits were issued only to those with full deep-sea diving gear. In 1946 master permits were issued to boat, diver and crew as a unit. In 1954 the diving gear was required to have a surface air pump operated from the boat. In 1977 permits were limited to those with existing permits, with an additional 5% to be chosen by lottery each year.

By 1991 it was required that each permit holder must land 1200 pounds each year to retain the permit. This eliminated about 5% of permit-holders per year. The new target goal was 70 permitees. Black abalone harvesting was prohibited effective August 1, 1993 pursuant to California Fish and Game Code Section 8305.9. Stocks were seriously depleted with an unknown disease-like condition known as withering-foot syndrome. Closure was enacted to protect surviving stocks of black abalone in California.