Abalone have been and continue to be hand-harvested by divers from the cold, pristine and unpolluted waters along the southern coast line of Australia since the 1960's. The commercial fisheries off Western Australian, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales target four species, commonly called blacklip, greenlip, brownlip and roei. Total annual harvest is about 3,500 t, with about 60% being harvested from Tasmania, which is the largest wild-capture abalone fishery in the world. Catches have been relatively stable over recent years, with contrast with abalone fisheries in many other countries where stocks have declined precipitously. In Australia, limited enty to licences, size limits and quotas are some of the management arrangements used to promote sustainability - underpinned by scientific stock assessments and rigorous fisheries-compliance programs.
Freshly harvested abalone are maintained and transported in a temperature controlled environment to ensure the freshest and highest quality product reaches the processors. Almost all of the product is exported, generating an annual beach value of about $200M. China, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan are the biggest importers. The product is exported live, canned, frozen or dried.
In comparison to the wild-caught abalone, abalone culture is a much newer industry having commenced in the 1990s. Total production is growing rapidly, with the current value about half that of the wild capture fishery. Farms are distributed across southern Australia.
Abalone is a great source of protein, omega 3, Iodine, phosphorous, Iron, vitamin E, Magnesium and Selenium that can promote a healthy heart, regular cholesterol levels and thyroid function.