Is it Legal to Ship Abalone to Others as Gifts?

Abalone must be shipped whole, in the shell with the tags attached (DFG photo)

Question: Is it legal to ship harvested red abalone as gifts within California and also out of state if the abalone is tagged and still in the shell? If yes, anything else we should be aware of? (Michelle G.)

Answer: There are ways to gift abalone to an out-of-state person, but you would have to abide by the following laws and check with out-of-state officials to make sure they allow importation of abalone. The following laws affect how abalone are shipped out of state:

  • No more than the legal bag and possession limit of three abalone may be possessed at any time (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(c)). Therefore, you cannot ship more that three abalone at a time. Otherwise, the shipper and the person picking up the abalone would be exceeding the possession limit.
  • It is unlawful for a common carrier or his agent to transport, or offer for transport, or to receive for transportation from, any one person, during any interval of time, more than the bag limit of birds, mammals, fish, or amphibia which may legally be taken and possessed by such person during that interval (Fish and Game Code, sections 2346 and 2347).
  • Abalone in possession (including transportation) shall not be removed from their shell, except at which time they are being prepared for immediate consumption (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(g)).
  • Abalone must be shipped whole, in the shell with the tags attached (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(g)).
  • Any package in which birds, mammals, fish, or amphibia, or parts thereof are offered for transportation to, or are transported or received for transportation by, a common carrier or his agent shall bear the name and address of the shipper and of the consignee and an accurate description of the numbers and kinds of birds, mammals, fish, or amphibia contained therein clearly and conspicuously marked on the outside thereof (FGC, section 2348).
  • Fish and Game Code Section 2349 prohibits shipping of wildlife via the parcel post, so you will need to use a private shipper.

Again, different states may have regulations that prohibit or restrict the shipment of abalone. You should check with state authorities for their requirements. For example, here are some of the California laws regarding bringing abalone INTO California. Other states may have a similar law(s):

  • Importing Abalone – Abalone or abalone meat legally taken outside this state may be imported into this state when accompanied by a U. S. customhouse entry certificate showing the place of origin, and a certificate or clearance from the responsible governmental agency to the effect that such shipment was made in compliance with the laws and regulations of the place or country of origin, and such abalone or abalone meat may be possessed in this state and shipped or transported out of the state, but all containers of such abalone shall be marked with the abalone’s place or country of origin (FGC, section 2371).
  • All species of Haliotis except our native species are on the Restricted Species list (CCR Title 14, section 671), which means that a restricted species permit is needed to import such live animals for any reason (including terminal food, hobby aquarium markets). Abalone are on the restricted list because of concerns that some very important diseases know to occur in some abalone in Australia and Asia could find their way to California abalone, and we need to prevent this from happening.

Waterfowl possession limit
Question: If I have a current valid hunting license and appropriate state and federal duck stamps, can I transport more than two limits in my vehicle if I am by myself and the other limits are properly tagged and dated with the other hunters’ license number? Or will that put me in violation of the possession limit? (Dick T.)

Answer: This would be legal. Just be sure that the tag contains ALL of the information required by law, including the date of kill, species and sex of the duck as well as the name, address, hunting license number and signature of the hunter.

Selling Deer Hides?
Question: I’m a hide tanner and was recently talking with a butcher about getting deer hides from him but he was worried about giving them to me. He seemed to think that I would need to have a deer tag for every deer hide. Can you tell me what the legalities are concerning deer hides? I would like to make use of the hides that are being thrown away. Also, do you know of any deer hide sources for me? (David Creamer)

Answer: It is legal to buy and sell (or gift) lawfully taken deer hides (Fish and Game Code, section 4303). The person receiving the hides is not required to have a hunting license or tag. However, it’s a good idea for both parties involved to keep records of the transactions to protect against false accusations that the hides were acquired illegally.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at

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