Species in the Spotlight: Priority Actions 2016–2020, White Abalone
In 2015, NOAA Fisheries announced a new program to focus and redouble our efforts to protect eight species that are currently among the most at risk of extinction in the near future. This 5-year action plan focuses on priority actions for the white abalone.
The Species in the Spotlight initiative is a concerted agency-wide effort to spotlight and save the most highly at-risk species. This initiative includes targeted efforts vital for stabilizing their populations and preventing their extinction. The approach involves intensive efforts by us and our recovery partners to stabilize these species. Our goal is to stabilize or reverse their declining trend so that the species will become a candidate for recovery in the future.
White abalone supported a brief but intense commercial fishery in southern California during the 1970s. The fishery was historically managed using size limits and seasons, but such methods failed because they did not account for density-dependent reproduction and assumed regular successful recruitment. Overfishing reduced numbers of this bottom-dwelling species to very low levels, resulting in a fragmented population. Results from remotely operated vehicle surveys and population viability analyses suggested that the remaining individuals were too far from potential mates to successfully reproduce in the wild (Tegner and Hobday 2000; Stierhoff et al. 2012). Fishery closure in 1997 has not reversed this status. In 2001, white abalone was the first marine invertebrate to be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.