Size limits for these succulent, one-shelled molluscs are based on the shell's smallest diameter. In California, the limits were:

Species Commercial
not less than
not less than
Red 7¾ inches 7 inches
Green 7 inches 6 inches
Pink or White 6¼ inches 6 inches
Black formerly 5¾ inches
(taking blacks is illegal)
formerly 5 inches
(taking blacks is illegal)
All other 4 inches 4 inches

Advice from California on measuring abalone:


The California Department of Fish and Game is engaged in a desperate struggle to preserve the state's abalone fishery. Commercial fishing for abalone, and all abalone fishing south of an east-west line through the center of the mouth of San Francisco Bay, is prohibited. Beginning with the 2002 season, the daily bag and possession limit was reduced from 4 to 3, and annual limit was set at 24 (down from 100). Use of SCUBA gear in catching abalone has always been illegal in the northern half of the state; fishers free dive or shore pick.

Over the years the average size of the abalone taken has tended to decline, but the largest red abalone ever measured by the California Department of Fish and Game was taken in September 1993; its shell had a minimum diameter of 12 inches.


northern or pinto abalone. In 1990, all fishing for abalone was banned. Stocks, however, have not recovered. The recovery plan is online here.

The size limit was formerly 100 millimeters.


Big abalone are not tougher than little abalone; they are all tough until pounded.



A comprehensive discussion of California species, natural history and catch.


www.dfg.ca.gov/mrd/abalone.html ; www.dfg.ca.gov/mrd/ab_info.html 

Home page for the Calif. Dept of Fish and Game's collection of pages on abalone, and the main information page


The situation in Canada.


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