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Commercial harvest of pinto abalone began in the 1960s. Between 1964 and 1976, the harvest varied greatly from year to year. Harvest effort increased in 1977. The fishery peaked with 379,000 pounds in 1979-1980. From 1981-1995, the harvest gradually declined to 14,000 pounds in 1995. The fishery closed in 1996 and has not reopened.
Alaska Natives use abalone as a supplemental food and as a trade item. Their shells are used as decorations for carvings and ceremonial dress.
Abalone is considered a gourmet food. The pinto abalone has a distinctive delicate flavor, and its smaller size compared to other species of abalone makes it more tender.