The two most important pieces of gear for abalone diving are your California fishing license and your abalone report card.
Taking abalone out of the ocean without properly reporting it is considered poaching and comes with big fines and other penalties. The fines and punishments vary from case to case, but in 2015 three poachers were fined $20,000 each for possessing 59 abalone.
Abalone report cards are the biggest pain of abalone diving, but they are vital to keep the red abalone of Northern California from being overfished. The abalone populations in Southern and Central California collapsed due to overfishing and the strict rules in the north keep the species from extinction.
You must send your report card back to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at the end of the year so they can monitor the amount of abalone taken from each area. They will then determine if certain areas need to be shut down so the population can recover.
Here’s my checklist with all the gear you should bring when going abalone diving.