Greenlip Abalone

Latin name: Haliotis laevigata

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Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • Greenlip abalone are a species of single-shell mollusc found on shallow rocky reefs across southern Australia.
  • A single population of greenlip abalone is thought to occur across the Western Australian coastline. The stock was seriously impacted by a marine heatwave in 2011, and fishery management since then has failed to ensure significant recovery. The population remains seriously depleted.
  • Greenlip abalone are hand-gathered by divers using hookah, snorkel and scuba. The fishing method is low impact and has no bycatch or discards.
  • A large area of the fishery has been closed to fishing since 2019.

More information

  • WA Greenlip/Brownlip Abalone Fishery (26t in 2021)

Greenlip abalone are found on inshore kelp forest reefs on southern coastlines. They serve an important ecological role as a grazing herbivore and prey item for a range of coastal species.

Greenlip abalone are thought to comprise a single genetic population across the WA coast, with multiple sub-populations evident. Populations are in a seriously depleted state after a marine heatwave in 2011, and it is seriously concerning that fishery managers have not been able to achieve significant recovery since that time. A large portion of the fishery was closed to fishing altogether in 2019.

Many greenlip abalone stocks across Australia are declining because abalone are highly susceptible to a range of climate impacts like marine heatwaves, habitat loss and invasive species. Management should incorporate monitoring and management of environmental impacts more explicitly in the fishery.

Abalone are hand-collected by divers. There is no bycatch, but there is some anecdotal evidence of impacts on seafloor habitats where abalone has been overfished in eastern Australia. There has been no such investment in such research on WA’s south coast where the fishery operates. Marine parks planned for implementation on the south coast could provide important refuge for currently depleted populations and opportunities to better protect and study the ecosystem effects of fishing, but unfortunately have been actively opposed by industry and fishery managers.