- Abalone (Haliotis) are an iconic species all over the world. They play a vital role in maintaining a healthy coastal ecosystem and hold an important cultural value for coastal communities in California. Almost all wild abalone in California are threatened in some way. The black and white abalone are listed as “endangered,” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and almost all of the other abalone species are on a similar trajectory. Only the red abalone is not ESA listed. Commercial and recreational abalone fisheries south of San Francisco were closed in 1997 and are remaining closed for the foreseeable future. Experts attribute the rapid decline of abalone to overfishing, mismanagement, and environmental stressors. The hardy red abalone supported the last recreational abalone fishery in northern California until 2017 when it too closed. The closure was recently extended until 2026. Currently, aquaculture is a technique being conducted in attempts to restore the endangered and threatened abalone. The role of federal and California environmental agencies in managing the abalone fishery and their subsequent efforts to prevent the extinction of abalone suggest it is important to understand institutional change over time; particularly the adaptive capacity (AC) of relevant institutions in the context of rapid social, environmental, and institutional change. In doing so, current abalone managers can learn lessons from the successes and downfalls of previous management techniques, and facilitation can occur for successful restoration activities. The plan is to eventually reopen the recreational abalone fishery in the north but maintaining a sustainable abalone fishery within a changing marine environment will prove challenging. Therefore, I wanted to answer the question of how institutions responded to decreasing abalone populations, and how they are now adapting. To do so, I conducted a literature review (secondary document analysis) of the management of recreational abalone fisheries, as well as interviews with institutional representatives to assess their AC. I found that there were major differences in management between north and south coast fisheries, and many additional factors contributed to the declines such as environmental strains. Furthermore, institutions have recently shown AC through increased stakeholder engagement and collaboration, though institutions still require increased support to be able to adapt to depleted numbers of abalone when coupled with climate change.