Haliotis kamtschatkana - Jonas, 1845
Pinto Abalone
Other English Common Names: Northern Abalone
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Haliotis kamtschatkana Jonas, 1845 (TSN 69494)
French Common Names: ormeau nordique
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.113951
Element Code: IMGASV2040
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Mollusks - Other Mollusks
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mollusca Gastropoda Archaeogastropoda Haliotidae Haliotis
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Turgeon, D.D., J.F. Quinn, Jr., A.E. Bogan, E.V. Coan, F.G. Hochberg, W.G. Lyons, P.M. Mikkelsen, R.J. Neves, C.F.E. Roper, G. Rosenberg, B. Roth, A. Scheltema, F.G. Thompson, M. Vecchione, and J.D. Williams. 1998. Common and scientific names of aquatic invertebrates from the United States and Canada: Mollusks. 2nd Edition. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 26, Bethesda, Maryland: 526 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B98TUR01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Haliotis kamtschatkana
Taxonomic Comments: McLean (1966) and Geiger and Poppe (2000) recognize the northern Haliotis kamtschatkana kamtschatkana and southern H. k. assimilis as subspecies; considered separate species by others (Kozloff, 1983; Sloan and Breen, 1988; Turgeon et al., 1998), based on distribution and morphological characteristics. Between San Luis Obispo and Point Conception in central California, H. k. kamtschatkana intergrades with H. k. assimilis (Geiger and Poppe, 2000).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 21Apr2010
Global Status Last Changed: 11May2006
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Dramatic decline has occurred and is occurring throughout range, with no indication of recovery despite commercial fishery closures in 1990 in British Columiba and 1995 in Alaska. The species is highly susceptible to overexploitation due to patchy distribution, short larval period, slow growth, low sporadic recruitment, and aggregation of adults during spawning. Recovery may be limited by combined effects of legal recreational/subsistence harvest and suspected illegal harvest, low recruitment levels due to the Allee effect, and predation caused by reintroduction and recovery of sea otters.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3N4 (11May2006)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N2 (03Jan2013)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alaska (S2S3), California (S2), Oregon (SNR), Washington (SNR)
Canada British Columbia (S2)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): SC: Species of concern (15Apr2004)
Comments on USESA: In a 90-day petition finding, NMFS (2013) found listing this species may be warranted and have initiated a status review. In a 12-month finding on two petitions to list the pinto abalone as threatened or endangered, NMFS (2014) have determined that the species does not warrant listing at this time. The species will remain on the NMFS Species of Concern list, with one revision to apply the Species of Concern status throughout the species' range (Alaska to Mexico).
Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: E (05Jun2003)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Endangered (26Apr2009)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation: Highly valued for its meat, this marine mollusc is patchily distributed along the west coast of Canada. Despite a total moratorium on harvest in 1990, the species was designated as Threatened in 2000. Poaching is the most serious threat and continues to reduce population abundance, particularly the larger, more fecund component; however, all size classes have declined significantly over the past three generations (i.e. since 1978) with mature individuals declining an estimated 88-89%. Low densities may further exacerbate the problem by reducing fertilization success in this broadcast spawner (the Allee effect). Although predators such as the recovering Sea Otter population are not responsible for recently observed declines, they may ultimately influence future abundance of abalone populations.

Status history: Designated Threatened in April 1999. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in April 2009.

IUCN Red List Category: EN - Endangered

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: This species ranges from Sitka, Alaska, to Pt. Conception, California, in patchy distribution but is predominantly found in Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska, but distribution is patchy (NOAA, 2004; Abalone Recovery Team, 2004).

Number of Occurrences:  
Number of Occurrences Comments: COSEWIC (2009) designated it endangered in Canada in 2009 with patchy distribution along the Canadian West Coast.

Population Size Comments: Species is patchily distributed and densities vary spatially in relation to human harvest pressure, sea otter predation, and local recruitment rates. Prior to recent declines, densities at index sites on the Queen Charlotte Islands and the B.C. central coast averaged 2.8 abalone/mē and 2.4 abalone/mē, respectively (Toole et al. 2002). Current densities at these index sites have declined to 0.5/mē and 0.2/mē (Toole et al. 2002). Elsewhere in B.C., densities of 0.10/mē to 0.15/mē were reported for Barkley Sound in 2000-2002 (Lucas et al. 2002d, Tomascik and Holmes 2003, Lessard et al. 2004); 0.05/mē at Goschen Island and 0.16/mē at McCauley Island, Kitkatla area in 2000 (Lucas et al. 2002b); 0.29/mē at Lotbiniere Bay in 2000 (Lucas et al. 2002c); 0.04/mē at Bere Bay, 0.03/mē at Trinity Bay, 0.05/mē at Cormorant Pass in 2000 (Lucas et al. 2002a); and 0.06/mē for Denman Island in 2000-2001 (Lucas et al. 2002e). Low and decreasing abundance of large individuals has also been reported in British Columbia (Tomascik and Holmes 2003, Atkins et al. 2004). Relatively high abundance still reported for the area close to William Head Penitentiary, near Victoria, B.C., where poaching may have been discouraged by the presence of prison guards (Wallace 1999, Toole et al. 2002).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few to some (1-40)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Minimum density for successful fertilization is approximately 0.13 to 0.33 individuals per square meter (NOAA, 2004). The only known Canada locality with densities approaching historical levels is at a Victoria penitentiary where nearshore access has been prohibited (NOAA, 2004).

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Extreme decline linked definitively to overharvest, suspected illegal harvest, predation with reintroduction and recovery of sea otter (Euhyrda lutris), and disease (Labryinthuloides haliotidis), only observed in mariculture juveniles (NOAA, 1999). From Abalone Recovery Team (2004): "The market value of northern abalone, and the difficulty in enforcing the fisheries closures in a large, mostly uninhabited coastal area has encouraged illegal harvesting of northern abalone. Illegal harvesting not only depletes the already depressed northern abalone population, but also reduces their reproductive potential by removing large mature northern abalone and hinders rehabilitation through closure to harvest. Samples from northern abalone illegally harvested during 1995-98 suggested that harvesters indiscriminately removed mostly large mature northern abalone." An analysis of population stock and recruitment in British Columbia following the closeure of the fishery in 1990 (Zhang et al., 2007) revealed abalone population growth was sensitive to mortality rates (both natural and poaching) and populations would be sustainable with mortality rates around 0.25 (currently at 0.29-0.36) and would increase or decrease as mortality rate increased or decreased. As a result, measures need to be taken to reduce poaching to reduce mortality rates. COSEWIC designated it endangered in Canada in 2009 despite a total moratorium on harvest in 1990 with poaching as the most serious threat that continues to reduce population abundance, particularly th elarger, more fecund components; although all size classes have declined significantly over the past three generations (i.e. since 1978) with mature individuals declining an estimated 88-89%.

Also from Abalone Recovery Team (2004):
"Abalone disease has severely impacted wild abalone stocks in California (e.g., foot withering syndrome), however it is unknown if the causative agent (a rickettsia-like organism that infects the epithelium of the digestive tract) or other parasites reported in California (e.g., kidney coccidia) occur in northern abalone in B.C."

The species is particularly vulnerable to harvest because mature individuals tend to accumulate in shallow water and are easily accessible to harvesters; and despite a fishing moratorium, continued illegal harvest and low recruitment levels due to reduced spawner densities continue to be the most significant threats to recovery in British Columbia (COSEWIC, 2009).

Short-term Trend: Decline of >70%
Short-term Trend Comments: Abalone abundance in British Columbia declined by more than 83% on the central coast and 81% in th eQueen Charlotte Islands between 1977 and 2007 and has remained low and/or continued to decrease even after the commercial fishery was closed in 1990 (Campbell 2000, Lucas et al. 2002a, b, c, d, e, Toole et al. 2002, Atkins and Lessard 2004, Lessard et al. 2004; COSEWIC, 2009). Mean densities of pinto abalone at comparable index sites changed from 2.40 to 0.40 abalone/mē for the central coast and from 2.22 to 0.43 for the Queen Charlotte Islands during 1978-2007 (Toole et al. 2002; COSEWIC, 2009). Also, during the same periods, mean mature density decreased from 2.13 to 0.23 for the central coast and from 1.28 to 0.15 for the Queen Charlotte Islands. Immature densities declined form 0.27 to 0.18 and from 1.39 to 0.27 for the central coast and Queen Charlotte Islands, respectively (COSEWIC, 2009). Also noted at these index locations were fewer sites containing pinto abalone in 1997-1998 (10-20%) than during 1978-1979 (45-80%; Campbell 2000). Decreases in density and declines in the number of sites with abalone suggested depletion of large abalone with little recruitment during most of the 1990s (Campbell 2000, Toole et al. 2002). Recent surveys indicated low numbers of large abalone at index locations in Barkley Sound, B.C. (Lucas et al. 2002a, Campbell et al. 2003, Lessard et al. 2004); this contrasts sharply with the many (51%) large abalone sampled there in 1963-64 (Campbell et al. 2003).

Pinto abalone abundance declined nearly 10-fold in northern California between 1971 and 2001(from 156,000 in 1971 to 18,000 in 1999-2001; NOAA/NMFS 2004). Recent surveys in the San Juan Island Archipelago, Washington, indicated a decline in density between 1992 and 1996 at 6 of 10 index sites; densities at all but one of these sites were below or at the minimum level for successful fertilization (NOAA/NMFS 2004).

Commercial harvest in Alaska peaked from 1978 to 1982 (highest annual catch of 172 tons in 1979-1980) and declined sharply thereafter; by 1994, average harvest had declined to 50,000 lbs. (Woodby et al. 2000, NOAA/NMFS 2004). The fishery was closed in 1995 in recognition of localized depletion of stocks (Woodby et al. 2000). There has been no evidence of population recovery in British Columbia since the fishery closed in 1990 (COSEWIC, 2009).

COSEWIC designated it endangered in Canada in 2009 despite a total moratorium on harvest in 1990 with poaching as the most serious threat that continues to reduce population abundance, particularly the larger, more fecund components; although all size classes have declined significantly over the past three generations (i.e. since 1978) with mature individuals declining an estimated 88-89% (COSEWIC, 2009).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 10-90%
Long-term Trend Comments: It is unclear what the natural state of the northern abalone populations may have been historically. There may have been many population fluctuations over time, which may have been related to changes that affected the entire community.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly to moderately vulnerable.
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: This species is vulnerable to over-exploitation because it has a patchy distribution, short larval period, is slow-growing, relatively long-lived, has low or sporadic recruitment and mature individuals are easily accessible to harvesters (Abalone Recovery Team, 2004). Low densities may further exacerbate the problem of decline by reducing fertilization success in this broadcast spawner.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Baseline surveys in areas not already surveyed (e.g., northern B.C. and Alaska) and continued broad-scale surveys are required to monitor population status of this species (Toole et al. 2002). In addition, intensive, fine-scale local surveys could help to recognize variability within and between areas of biologically distinct populations (Campbell 2000); some of these surveys have already taken place in B.C. (Withler et al. 2003).

Protection Needs: Commercial fishery closure in Alaska in 1996 but recreational free diving remains. Recreational fishery closed in Washington in 1994 (no commercial fishery in Washington). Canada fishery closure in 1990 to all groups. The only known Canada locality with densities approaching historical levels is at a Victoria penitentiary where nearshore access has been prohibited. Canada COSEWIC listed as threatened species (NOAA, 2004). Culture techniques for northern abalone have yet to be perfected, although pilot projects are underway to develop this technology in conjunction with population rebuilding initiatives. Abalone hatchery efforts initiated in Bamfield, British Columbia. An analysis of population stock and recruitment in British Columbia following the closeure of the fishery in 1990 (Zhang et al., 2007) revealed abalone population growth was sensitive to mortality rates (both natural and poaching) and populations would be sustainable with mortality rates around 0.25 (currently at 0.29-0.36) and would increase or decrease as mortality rate increased or decreased. As a result, measures need to be taken to reduce poaching to reduce mortality rates.

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) This species ranges from Sitka, Alaska, to Pt. Conception, California, in patchy distribution but is predominantly found in Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska, but distribution is patchy (NOAA, 2004; Abalone Recovery Team, 2004).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, CA, OR, WA
Canada BC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AK Ketchikan Gateway (02130), Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan (CA) (02201), Sitka (02220), Wrangell-Petersburg (CA) (02280)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
19 Southeast Mainland (19010101)+, Ketchikan (19010102)+, Prince of Wales (19010103)+, Mainland (19010201)+, Kuiu-Kupreanof-Mitkof-Etolin-Zarembo-Wrangell Isla (19010202)+, Baranof-Chichagof Islands (19010203)+, Icy Strait-Chatham Strait (19010500)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A thin-shelled marine mollusk.
Reproduction Comments: Minimum density for successful fertilization is approximately 0.13 to 0.33 individuals per square meter (NOAA, 2004). Northern abalone spawn synchronously, with groups of males and females in close proximity in shallow waters, broadcasting gametes into the water column (Breen and adkins, 1980 cited in Abalone Recovery Team, 2004). Populations are particularly vulnerable to over-exploitation during spawning periods as reduced fertilization success can be caused by dilution of gametes through reduced adult spawner densities. High densities of adults are required to ensure sufficient recruitment (0.15-0.30/square meter). Planktonic phase is short (12-13 days) and larval exchange in some abalone species may occur in small geographic areas (hundreds of meters to several km). Age at which northern abalone reach 100 mm (initial maturity is 50 mm) is about 6 to 8 years (Sloan and Breen, 1988 cited in Abalone Recovery Team, 2004).
Habitat Type: Marine
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Marine Habitat(s): Near shore, Pelagic
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Habitat is predominantly kelp beds along outer well-exposed coasts; typically low intertidal to 30 feet depth, but ranges to 100 m depth (NOAA, 2004; Abalone Recovery Team, 2004). It occurs in a wide range of habitats from fairly sheltered bays to exposed coastlines but the populations with the highest densities are found in areas with the highest wave exposure (Lessard and Campbell, 2007).
Adult Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: From Abalone Recovery Team (2004):
"Within the near shore, exposed or semiexposed coastal waters, northern abalone play the role of herbivore and are prey of many species. Young northern abalone feed on diatoms and micro-algae. Food for juveniles and adult abalone includes macroalgae and kelp. Recovery of northern abalone may be related to the abundance and health of kelp forests in certain areas. Northern abalone compete with other species (e.g., red sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus franciscanus) for food, and interactions with these species should be considered in the recovery strategy."

Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Recovery goals and objectives are outlined in Abalone Recovery Team (2004) and Jamieson (1999).
Biological Research Needs: Currently very little is known about the relationship between northern abalone adult concentrations, breeding success and subsequent dispersal of larvae and settlement of juveniles. Unique genetic markers need to be identified for northern abalone.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Help
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 21Apr2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J.
Management Information Edition Date: 11May2006
Management Information Edition Author: Cordeiro, J.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 18Dec2007
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Cordeiro, J.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Abalone Recovery Team. 2004. National recovery strategy for the northern abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) in Canada. Report to Fisheries and Oceans Canada- Pacific Canada. 28 pp.

  • B.C. Ministry of Environment. Recovery Planning in BC. B.C. Minist. Environ. Victoria, BC.

  • COSEWIC. 2009. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Northern Abalone Haliotis kamtschatkana in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 48 pp.

  • COSEWIC. 2009. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the northern abalone Haliotis kamtschatkana in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa, Canada. 48 pp.

  • Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 2009a. COSEWIC Assessment Results, April 2009. Online. Available: http://www.cosewic.gc.ca/.

  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans. 2015. Report on the Progress of Recovery Strategy Implementation for Northern Abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) in Pacific Canadian Waters for the Period 2007-2012. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Report Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa. v + 28 pp

  • Farlinger, S. 1990. Review of the biological basis for management of the abalone fishery in British Columbia. Can. Ms. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci.2099: 41-51.

  • Farlinger, S. and G. Thomas. 1989. Review of the abalone fishery in British Columbia. PSARC Doc. I88-10. Summerized in Can. Ms. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci.2020: p.138.

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 2007b. Recovery Strategy for the Northern Abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Vancouver. vi + 31 pp. 

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 2012d. Action Plan for the Northern Abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) in Canada Species at Risk Act Action Plan Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa. vii + 65 pp.

  • Geiger, D. L. 2000. Distribution and biogeography of the recent Haliotidae (Gastropoda: Vetigastropoda) world-wide. Bollettino Malacologico, Roma. 35:57-120.

  • Geiger, D. L. and G. T. Poppe. 2000. Haliotidae. Pp. 61-62 in Poppe, G. T. and K. Groh (Eds.). Conchological Iconography. ConchBooks, Weisbaden. 135 pp.

  • Jamieson, G.A. 1999. Review of status of Northern or Pinto Abalone, HALIOTIS KAMTSCHATKANA, in Canada. Fisheries and Oceans, Govern. of Canada. Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, BC. 22 pp.

  • Jamieson, G.S. 1999. Review of status of northern, or pinto, abalone, Haliotis kamtschatkana, in Canada. Canadian Stock Assessment Secretariat Research Document 99/190. 22 pp.

  • Kozloff, E.N. 1983. Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific Coast: an Illustrated Guide to Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington. 388 pp.

  • McLean, J. H. 1966. West American prosobranch gastropoda: Superfamilies Patellacae, Pleurotomariacea, and Fissurellacea. Ph. D. dissertation, Stanford University, CA. 255 p.

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 2004. Status assessment of Haliotis kamtschatkana, pinto abalone. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Protected Resources. Updated 13 April 2004. Available: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/species/pintoabalone_detailed.pdf. Accessed May 2006.

  • Parks Canada Agency. 2017f. Multi-species Action Plan for Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada - Species at Risk Act Action Plan Series. Parks Canada Agency, Ottawa. v + 29 pp.

  • Sloan, N. A., and P. A. Breen. 1988. Northern abalone, Haliotis kamtschatkana in British Columbia: fisheries and synopsis of life history information. Canadian Special Publications in Fisheries and Aquatic Science 103. 46pp.

  • Sloan, N. A., and P. A. Breen. 1988. Northern abalone, HALIOTIS KAMTSCHATKANA, in British Columbia: fisheries and synopsis of life history information. Canadian Special Publications in Fisheries and Aquatic Science 103. 46pp.

  • Tomascik, T. and H. Holmes. 2003. Distribution and abundance of Haliotis kamtschatkana in relation to habitat, competitors and predators in the Broken Group Islands, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada. J. of Shellfish Research 22: 831-838.

  • Turgeon, D.D., J.F. Quinn, Jr., A.E. Bogan, E.V. Coan, F.G. Hochberg, W.G. Lyons, P.M. Mikkelsen, R.J. Neves, C.F.E. Roper, G. Rosenberg, B. Roth, A. Scheltema, F.G. Thompson, M. Vecchione, and J.D. Williams. 1998. Common and scientific names of aquatic invertebrates from the United States and Canada: Mollusks. 2nd Edition. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 26, Bethesda, Maryland: 526 pp.

  • Zhang, Z., A. Campbell, and J. Lessard. 2007. Modeling northern abalone, Haliotis kamtschatkana, population stock and recruitment in British Columbia. Journal of Shellfish Research, 26(4): 1099-1107.

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