Seeking input from Alaskans concerned about abalone

Ashley Bolwerk contributed to this story

Pinto abalone underwater
Pinto abalone. Photo courtesy Ashley Bolwerk.

Alaska has only one species of abalone, which goes by many names: Northern abalone, Pinto abalone, Gunxaa, and Gúlaa. Abalone are relatives of snails and limpets, and they eat kelp and other seaweeds. They are found in limited areas of Southeast Alaska’s outer coast, from Chichagof Island at the northern end, and Prince of Wales Island and the Ketchikan area south to the Canadian border. Their range extends to California. Their habitat includes the intertidal zone to about 30 feet deep. 

Abalone are important to many Alaskans as food, artistic material, and a component of cultural and spiritual well being. For thousands of years, Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian communities have been and continue to be stewards of abalone.

As part of an effort to continue to steward this species, an abalone working group is forming in Southeast Alaska to prioritize the concerns and needs of communities, and this group is looking for information from people interested in abalone. A digital survey was designed to provide an opportunity for Alaskans to share their priorities about sustainably increasing abalone availability in their communities. Potential strategies could include research, restoration, cultural and educational programming, aquaculture, and monitoring. 

abalone on a log
Abalone harvest. Photo courtesy Ashley Bolwerk.

Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow Ashley Bolwerk is leading the survey, which asks Alaskans to share priorities for abalone in their communities and to provide input on community-specific conservation and recovery strategies. The survey provides opportunities to provide feedback on the importance of abalone, abalone farming, competition and predation, and more.

Community listening sessions in the spring of 2022 will provide another opportunity for the public to share input.

If you have ideas about how this survey can reach more people, please email Ashley Bolwerk at You can also share the abalone survey on social media using the share button, below.

Take the Survey

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