A new study shows abalone was harvested by north coast First Nations for over 2,000 years.
Charles Menzies is a professor of anthropology at UBC, and his research has confirmed what oral traditions has long been claiming.
He says abalone was a key food and trade item for First Nations along the coast.
While abalone is currently protected, a critical problem is the lack of enforcement.
He says illegal dive operators are keeping stocks down, preventing from rebounding enough for an aboriginal domestic harvest.
Menzies says that the lost of the abalone harvest has a deep impact on people on the coast.
He says the next step is to continue his research at other sites where abalone was likely harvested, and share that information with affected communities.
He hopes there will eventually be a domestic aboriginal harvest.