Ongoing Reviews: Red Abalone Density Estimates (DFW)  |  Underwater Noise Modeling (CSLC)

Red Abalone Density Estimates

On behalf of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Staff Contact: Errin Ramanujam, Associate Scientist
Review contact email:

DFW has requested an independent review of the survey design and the methods currently used to estimate red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) density. Abalone density is used as part of an adapative management approach to inform catch guidelines for the recreational red abalone fishery in northern California, and population goals in southern California, as outlined by the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan.

On this Page:

Scope of Work & Review Process

To initiate the review, OST entered into a series of discussions with DFW to clarify the review request. From these conversations OST developed two key review documents:

  • Review Scope document that details the review scope, the agreed upon roles and responsibilities of OST and DFW, and OST's scientific review policies; and
  • Review Process document that summarizes each step of the review process, including selection of reviewers (aka Science Advisory Committee).

[ top ]

Science Advisory Committee

The Science Advisory Committee (SAC) is composed of 6 external scientific and technical experts from appropriate disciplines. To select members of the SAC, OST accepted recommendations from DFW, the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT), and key constituent groups. Nominees had to meet a set of minimum qualifications for scientific expertise laid out in the review process document (above). Members were then selected by the OPC science advisor (OST executive director) in consultation with the OPC-SAT executive committee.

Mark H. Carr (SAC Chair), Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz

Dr. Mark Carr is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Since the mid-70’s, he has conducted scuba-based research on the population and community ecology of coastal marine fishes, and kelp forest ecosystems in southern and central California. His research informs management and conservation topics including ecosystem-based management of kelp forests, decommissioning of offshore oil platforms, the design and evaluation of marine protected areas, collaborative fisheries research, ecosystem-based fisheries management, and large-scale, long-term monitoring studies. He is a principal investigator with the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), for which he oversees a long-term, large scale kelp forest monitoring study in central California established in 1998. He oversaw baseline characterizations of kelp forest ecosystems (using scuba surveys) in the central and north-central study regions of the state-wide network of marine protected areas established by the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). He conducted baseline surveys of the marine reserves established on the southern coast of Oregon. Surveys conducted along the north-central coast quantified the distribution and magnitude of red abalone mortality associated with the harmful algal bloom (HAB) event in 2011.

Karina J. Nielsen, Professor, Department of Biology, Sonoma State University

Dr. Karina Nielsen is a marine ecologist with over two decades of hands-on experience designing and conducting field experiments and surveys of invertebrates and other marine organisms on rocky shores, sandy beaches and salt marshes. She has quantified the abundance of many species of gastropods, bivalves, crustaceans and more on the shores of North and South America, and published the results in numerous scientific studies. She also teaches graduate and undergraduate students quantitative field methods for studying marine organisms, populations and communities at Sonoma State University. More often than not her calendar is driven by the tides, even her university teaching schedule (often to the frustration of her department chair), because she believes students learn more from observing and working with marine organisms on the shore and in the sea, than reading about them in textbooks.

Jeremy Prince, Adjunct Associate Professor, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia

Dr. Jeremy Prince completed a PhD study in 1989 based on dive research of abalone ecology in Tasmania, Australia and has since worked widely developing survey and assessment methodology for species as divergent as deepwater fish, sharks, dugong, sea urchins, rock lobster and abalone. A resident of Australia through the 1990s and 2000s he consulted principally to the stock assessment process of the Australian Commonwealth Government’s fishery management agency. Initially designing and implementing fisheries surveys and other stock assessment related research, and latterly chairing assessment groups and participating on management advisory committees. Dr Prince has 32 publications in refereed journals. From 1990 through 2005 his summer holiday activities have included a period diving each year with a commercial team of free-diving abalone divers in southern New Zealand. He is currently working on a Packard Foundation funded project for the Marine Stewardship Council; developing a new standard of size-based assessment for data-poor stock assessment. Although the new standard has been designed to be applicable to most species generally, one of the case studies being developed involves the blacklip abalone fishery in the Western Zone of Victoria, Australia.

Peter Raimondi, Chair/Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz

Stephen C. Schroeter, Research Ecologist, Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, Adjunct Professor, Department of Biology, San Diego State University

I am a population and community ecologist working in a variety of habitats including rocky intertidal and subtidal reefs, tidal wetlands, and coastal sage scrub and coastal chaparral communities. All of this work has involved designing and implementing robust sampling designs, including ongoing sampling designs aimed at assessing the performance of kelp forest algae, invertebrates, and fish on a large artificial reef and natural reference reefs in San Diego county. In the last 10 years, I have been involved in an ongoing project whose focus has been developing and implementing robust collaborative sampling designs for sea urchins and other kelp forest invertebrates with members of the sea urchin fishery, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and colleagues at UC San Diego and the University of Washington. I served as a member of the Scientific Review Committee for the California Abalone Fishery Advisory Group and as an independent reviewer for the California Department of Fish and Game’s Abalone Recovery and Management Plan.

Brian Tissot, Director/Professor, Marine Laboratory, Department of Biology, Humboldt State University

Dr. Brian Tissot is a marine ecologist with over three decades of experience conducting research on invertebrates and fishes in intertidal zone, kelp forest, coral reef, and deep-sea ecosystems. He received his Ph.D. in Zoology from Oregon State University and has held positions at the University of Hawaii and Washington State University. He currently serves as the Director of the Marine Laboratory at Humboldt State University. He has published over 60 papers in technical reports and scientific journals and has been awarded over $7 million in research grants in his career. Brian’s work has been featured in Scientific American, Smithsonian magazine, the Washington Post and several films. His work on abalone began in 1979 in his garage and he has gone on to publish scientific papers on growth, diet, thermal effects, climate change, ecology, evolution and mass mortality on many species of abalone. As part of his PhD dissertation he tagged over 5,000 black abalone on Santa Cruz Island and Año Nuevo Island, California and followed them for over 15 years. In 2004-2008 he served on a NOAA Scientific Advisory Panel for the review of black abalone listing under the Endangered Species Act and wrote the technical report used in the ESA status review process. Black abalone were listed as Endangered in 2009. Brian is an avid surfer and SCUBA diver and has done both throughout the Pacific Islands, in Indonesia, Mexico and the US East and West Coasts.

[ top ]

DFW Science Team

In requesting this review, DFW has agreed to provide all data and other information necessary for the SAC to conduct a constructive scientific and technical review. DFW scientists most familiar with the design, methodology and application of red abalone density surveys will engage in the process and be available to answer questions as necessary. DFW Marine Region Program Manager, Tom Barnes, is the primary management contact for this review process.

  • Cynthia A. Button, Environmental Scientist, Invertebrate Project, Marine Region, CA Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Laura Rogers-Bennett, Senior Environmental Scientist, CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, Research Associate, University of California, Davis
  • Ian Kei Taniguchi, Senior Environmental Scientist, CA Department of Fish and Wildlife

[ top ]

Review Materials

The review will take place from July through November 2013, with delivery of the final review product in mid-December 2013. A key element of the review process will be a series of meetings, including a webinar kickoff meeting, an in-person technical workshop, and a final webinar briefing to share review outcomes. Relevant Information, including materials such as agendas and meetings summaries, will be posted here. The webinar kickoff meeting and the final webinar briefing will include opportunities for public engagement.

Density Survey Methodology Description

Recommended Citations

Supplementary Information

[ top ]

Meeting Information

Webinar Kickoff Meeting: Online & Call In

Monday, September 16, 2:00 PM

Post Meeting Materials:

Technical Workshop

Wednesday, October 23, 10:00 AM - 5:30 PM
1330 Broadway, Suite 1530 Oakland, CA

Post Meeting Materials:

[ top ]

Final Summary Outcomes

OST will engage the SAC in drafting a final review product that includes a description of the scientific and technical review process and associated outcomes, and if necessary, recommendations to evaluate methods presently employed to estimate red abalone density in California. This document will be delivered to DFW and made publicly available.

[ top ]

Underwater Noise Modeling Analysis

On behalf of the California State Lands Commission

Staff Contact: Aaron McGregor, Associate Scientist

The CSLC is currently in the process of reviewing and updating the CSLC’s low-energy Offshore Geophysical Survey Permit program. In order to ensure that the CSLC is incorporating the best available science, the CSLC has requested an independent review of the underwater noise analysis as it relates to low energy surveys’ potential effects on biological resources.

[ top ]