Status Review Report for Pinto Abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) (2014)
Find information on pinto abalone abundance, population size, life history, and risk of extinction.
The pinto abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) is a relatively large prosobranch gastropod mollusk ranging from approximately Salisbury Sound (north of Sitka), Alaska, to Bahia Tortugas, Baja California, Mexico and occurring in intertidal and subtidal habitats from 0-40m depth. The quality and quantity of abundance information derived from both fishery-dependent and independent sources vary by geographic area. The best available data indicate that pinto abalone abundance has declined in many areas throughout the species’ range due to fisheries harvest. Subsistence and personal use fisheries in Alaska and a commercial fishery in Mexico persist. Preliminary data from surveys in 2011 and 2012 indicate signs of recovery in pinto abalone populations along the British Columbia coast, most likely due to a reduction in illegal harvest. In contrast, survey data and studies indicate that pinto abalone populations at the San Juan Islands in Washington are experiencing recruitment failure and continuing to decline, despite closure of the fisheries and no evidence of poaching. Throughout the remainder of the species’ range, trends are less clear, due to the lack of regular, long-term monitoring surveys for pinto abalone. The limited data from surveys and/or opportunistic sightings indicate that pinto abalone populations are small, patchily distributed, and/or fluctuate episodically in Alaska, California, and Mexico, with evidence of recent recruitment in a number of locations within these three areas. However, we lack baseline abundance and trend data for the species prior to the advent of commercial fisheries and, in some areas, the local extirpation of sea otters. Without a clear baseline with which to compare the current abundance levels and trend information, it is difficult to interpret what these levels mean for the status and viability of the species.