Abalone


Latin names: Haliotis rubra, H. laevigata, H. conicopora, H. roei, Haliotis laevigata


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Farmed

Region:
WA, VIC, SA, TAS

Key Facts

  • Abalone are farmed on land and in the ocean.
  • Abalone are herbivorous and fed diets made from fast-growing algae. This has a low impact on marine ecosystems.
  • Farms have a small impact on their surrounding environment as waste is minimal.
  • There is some risk of disease outbreaks in abalone farms spreading to wild abalone populations; strict controls on disease management now protect wild abalone from farm-transferred outbreaks.

More information

Abalone are farmed on land, or at sea in cages or racks suspended off the sea floor. Farms generally have a low impact on their surrounding environment as operations are generally small with low amounts of waste.

In recent years, diseases transferred from farmed abalone to wild populations have caused concern, particularly in Victoria. Diseases reduced wild populations to an overfished state. Following a series of outbreaks, farms now closely monitor for any signs of disease, and farms are de-stocked if disease is detected. Strict controls on disease management now protect wild abalone from farm-transferred outbreaks.

Abalone are herbivorous, and are fed diets based on seaweeds. The types of algae harvested to feed farmed abalone are quick-growing, and studies have shown that their harvest has no effect on wild algae populations.

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Wild Caught

Region:
WA

Key Facts

  • Three different species of abalone are collected in WA. Fisheries managers set limits on how many abalone can be taken and set a minimum size limit to enable abalone to reproduce before they can be harvested.
  • Stocks of abalone appear healthy.
  • Abalone are hand-collected, which is a low impact method of fishing.

More information

  • WA Roe’s Abalone Fishery, Greenlip/Brownlip Abalone Fishery (265t 2012)

Three different species of abalone are harvested in WA. Fisheries managers set catch limits (how many abalone can be taken within a set time limit) and a minimum size limit for all species to ensure abalone reach maturity and reproduce before they can be harvested. These measures ensure the stock remains healthy.

Abalone reproduction and stock health is closely linked to environmental conditions. An unusual increase in seawater temperatures to 3oC above average temperatures in early 2011 resulted in extensive abalone mortalities.

Abalone are collected by hand by divers and by wading in shallower water. This is a low impact method of fishing with minimal impacts on habitats and protected species.

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Wild Caught

Region:
VIC, SA, TAS

Key Facts

  • Stocks of blacklip and greenlip abalone are likely made up many small, independent populations along the southern coast of Australia.
  • Regional studies suggest that some areas support healthy populations, while other areas are depleted and overfished, resulting in a patchwork of stock status.
  • While some areas are classed as 'overfished' in fishery reports, illegal fishing and viral infections have also depleted populations in some areas.
  • Abalone are hand-collected, which is a low impact method of fishing.

More information

  • SA Abalone Fishery (447t 2010)
  • TAS Abalone Fishery (2,484t 2010)
  • VIC Abalone Fishery (798t 2010)

Research into the stock status of abalone populations indicates that stocks of blacklip and greenlip abalone are likely made up many small, independent populations along the southern coast of Australia. Regional studies suggest that some areas support healthy populations, while other areas are depleted and overfished, resulting in a patchwork of stock status. Fisheries managers are currently working to gain a greater understanding of stock structure in order to better manage abalone fisheries.

While some of the abalone populations are classified as ‘overfished’ in fishery reports, the health of abalone populations has also been heavily impacted by non-commercial fishing activities. While commercial fishing is largely regulated and monitored, there have been numerous cases reported by Government fishery departments of illegal abalone harvests by non-commercial fishers, including harvest of small abalone.  Abalone populations have also been decimated in previous years as a result of viral infection. The likely source of infection is from waste discharged from abalone farms.

Abalone are collected by hand by divers and by wading in shallower water. This is a low impact method of fishing with minimal impacts on habitats and protected species.