Bamfield Huu-ay-aht Community
Abalone Project (BHCAP)

Northern abalone were once a key member of coastal ecosystems and an important economic and cultural resource in western Canada. However, over-exploitation led to dramatic population declines and the closure of the fishery in 1990. Since that time, northern abalone populations have failed to recover.

The main goal of the BCHAP is to replenish wild abalone populations, and to remove it from its threatened status.

Brief project description - click here

Project details, facilities and methodology:

broodstock | DNA analysis | hatchery | settlement | outplanting

Abalone Conservation Programs

  BHCAP's Abalone Coast Watch

  Nisga'a Coast Watch Program


What are abalone?

Northern, or Pinto (Haliotis Kamtschatkana) abalone are sub-tidal marine snails that were once very abundant throughout the west coast, from Alaska to California. Their shell is ear-like in shape and they like to graze algae by scraping it off rocks with their spiny-toothed tongue, or radula. These gastropods take about four years to reach reproductive age and reproduce by broadcasting their gametes (eggs and sperm) out into the water column, making it vital that they be near each other during breeding season. For more about Abalone Biology, click here.


Why are abalone threatened?

Abalone have long been a traditional food and decorative source of the First Nations people of the west coast. The meat was highly prized, and the lustrous shells were used in jewelry and adornment. The abalone's population remained stable until the advent of SCUBA in the 1970's, which allowed abalone to be harvested commercially at very high rates. They soon became over-harvested and their populations were no longer able to sustain themselves. The decline in abalone stocks prompted the government to place a ban on the harvesting of Pinto abalone in 1990, making it illegal to do so. Since then, poaching has become a problem. The black market demand for abalone has kept the population from coming back, with illegal harvests matching the legal quotas of 1989.

What is the project about?

The main goal of the BCHAP (Bamfield Community Huu ay aht Abalone Project) is to replenish wild abalone populations and to remove it from its threatened status. The project includes a hatchery and grow-out facility to breed and raise abalone for reintroduction into the wild. Studies are underway to calculate the quantity and quality of abalone in study sites in and around Bamfield, and discover where assistance is most needed for their rehabilitation. The project also focuses on public education and awareness campaigns to increase support for the re-establishment of this threatened species.

Who is involved?

Bamfield Huu-Ay-Aht Community Abalone Project is one of four organizations involved in the abalone pilot projects on the coast of BC. Haida Gwaii, Kitasoo, and Malcolm Island Shellfish Co-op are also working to restock the marine world with abalone; Haida Gwaii and Kitasoo are attempting to help out abalone wild stocks with manipulation of those wild stocks (moving them around to clump their populations to increase chances of fertilization), while BHCAP and Malcolm Island are using a hatchery approach for rearing abalone from brood stock. Also, the BHCAP has developed Coast Watch, a program to get locals involved in abalone protection at study sites near Bamfield and throughout barkley sound.

More information and teacher's resources:

For more info, e-mail us at: BCHAP mail


The Bamfield Huu-ay-aht Community Abalone Project is funded, in part, by Environment Canada. The Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk is a partnership-based, conservation initiative sponsored by the Government of Canada. The program is managed cooperatively by Environment Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Parks Canada, and is administered by Environment Canada.

Contact us:

Bamfield Huu-ay-aht Community Abalone Project
100 Pachena Road
Bamfield, B.C.
V0R 1B0
BCHAP mail

OceanLink Home | BHCAP | Coast Watch | Abalone Biology
First Nations | Links