Illustration of Abalone

Abalone

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Abalone

Haliotis spp.

Method

Farmed

Recirculating aquaculture system (RAS)

Location

International

Overall Rating

7.0 / 10

Summary

The 5 most common sources of abalone are Mexico, Australia, Chile, US and China. About 100 species of abalone exist, but only 15 are farmed. Demand for abalone has exhausted many wild stocks, and some species are now endangered. Consequently, aquaculture began in the 1960’s and consumption has increased at a fast rate, making abalone one of the most popular farmed seafood items today.

Abalone are a fast-growing species that are found worldwide. They do not require fishmeal to grow, since they consume algae, which is a sustainable source of food. These characteristics make them ideal candidates for aquaculture. Scientific and commercial knowledge of abalone aquaculture is thorough. Government regulations are effective and industry practices are well-monitored.

Sea-based abalone enclosures are sometimes subject to break-ins from predators, but these occurences are not common, and can be prevented with good management. Escaped abalone however, are a possibility. Escapees could compete with other species for food, alter the genetic makeup of the native population through hybridization, or indirectly increase the predation upon other species. Additionally, the risk of disease and/or parasite transmission to wild populations is high.

Waste water from abalone enclosures is released, untreated into the wild. This has a minimal impact on the environment because the water is free of chemicals and low in nitrogen.

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Abalone

Haliotis spp.

Method

Farmed

Sea ranching

Location

China, Japan

Overall Rating

6.2 / 10

Summary

The 5 most common sources of abalone are Mexico, Australia, Chile, US and China. About 100 species of abalone exist, but only 15 are farmed. Demand for abalone has exhausted many wild stocks, and some species are now endangered. Consequently, aquaculture began in the 1960’s and consumption has increased at a fast rate, making abalone one of the most popular farmed seafood items today.

Unlike conventional aquaculture, sea ranching obtains juveniles from wild sources, and the “ranching” consists of merely growing the wild abalone to harvest size. Sea ranching is therefore unable to add individuals to wild populations in the way that salmon populations are sometimes hatchery supplemented, and it is an ineffective way of harvesting endangered or threatened species. Ranching removes several native species from the farming area, such as sea stars, crabs, and other marine carnivores. Consequently, significant levels of mortality are caused. Escaped abalone could compete with other species for food, alter the genetic makeup of the native population through hybridization, or indirectly increase predation upon other species. Additionally, the risk of disease and/or parasite transmission to wild populations is high.

Waste water and chemical use have minimal impacts on the ecosystem. However, the sea ranching of abalone causes significant damage to the habitat. In order to grow the abalone, areas of the seafloor are cleared and transformed into “underwater pastures”. This is highly disruptive to the functioning of the ecosystem, and is of serious concern.

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  • Sea ranching
Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Western Australia Abalone Fishery

Variety

Abalone

Haliotis laevigata, Haliotis conicopora, Haliotis roel

Method

Hand harvest

Location

Western Australia

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Western Australia Abalone Fishery

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

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