Date of Award


Degree Name

MA in History




College of Liberal Arts


Andrew D. Morris

Advisor Department


Advisor College

College of Liberal Arts


This thesis traces the history of the abalone fisheries on the California Coast and how those fisheries have been understood and shaped by humans over time. An overarching interest that guides this effort is how indigenous populations used abalone and otters (as well as other marine resources) purposefully for millennia prior to European arrival. However, this work is not entirely focused on prehistory. Instead, it shows how a lack of understanding of this prehistory shaped the conservation efforts of the California Department of Fish and Game and its ultimate decision to close the commercial fishery in 1997. In this sense, there is a layer of this thesis that takes on the form of an institutional history of the California Department of Fish and Game, but it does so as a model of how management practices were developed and implemented during the twentieth century. In this frame, this thesis in also a history of twentieth century ecological and scientific practices that historicizes the closure of the commercial abalone fishery in 1997.