Helpful Information About Abalone Farming
Hard physical labor is not the only aspect of abalone farming. While it is a substantial amount of hard word, to be successful, one must possess business sense and be familiar with the scientific aspect of the field as well. Typically one farm will hire a couple of biologists to assist with the scientific portion and then also a few laborers who are responsible for caring for and feeding the abalone.
What Are Abalone?
Abalone are various sizes of sea snails, sea ears, ear-shells, mutton shells and mutton fish. The meat is used for food while the shells are used in the production of decorative items. They are also a primary source for mother of pearl.
The larger species have been so exploited due to abalone farming that they are now severely threatened in many locations. The meat is enjoyed as a delicacy, mainly in Latin America, New Zealand, France and East Asia, primarily Japan, Korea and China.
In Chinese speaking areas, abalone are often part of a banquet and are reserved for special occasions. In Japan, raw and live abalone are served in awabi sushi or they are eaten salted, steamed, simmered or chopped in soy sauce.
Why Farm Abalone?
With 90 species of abalone worldwide, there is plenty of potential for abalone farming. The future prices of abalone directly affect supply and demand. While there have been some ups and downs in a limited range, abalone farming consistently offers a substantial profit. They continue to be successfully farmed, despite the decrease in market price.
- California – There are 15 locations for abalone farming in California with the largest one selling a few million per year.
- China – Aquaculture production has exploded in China over the past decade.
- Japan – There are quite a few farming operations of impressive size in Japan.
- South Africa and Chile – These are the two most recent countries to get involved in abalone farming.
- Taiwan – There are more than 400 farms ran by local families in Taiwan. They are the primary leader in the market.
- Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania – Many new grow-out farms and hatcheries have sprouted in these locations over the past few years.
Abalone Farming Tips And Regulations
- Licensing requirements are always very specific in every area but often include local, provincial, regional and federal licenses. Be sure to check the exact requirements in your area.
- The type of abalone that you decide to farm will be determined by your facility's water temperature as well as any restrictions in your areas. Some species are protected due to their diminished population.
- Water temperature is very important with this type of business. Every species has its preferred temperature range. Temperate species enjoy temperatures between 46 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit, subtropical species prefer 57 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit and tropical species flourish temperatures between 60 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
- You do not have to choose only one abalone species to farm. Facilities can easily be constructed or altered to accommodate a few different species. However, unless water supplies at the farm are of different temperatures, every species will have to be able to survive in one universal water temperatures. Therefore, if you are farming subtropical abalones, all varieties will need to be subtropical.
Feeding Your Abalones
One of the reasons this is such a profitable business is because the feeding requirements are so minimal. Abalones feed on marine algae. In the wild, adults eat algae that is adrift in the ocean's current. The most preferred types of algae to feed your abalone are giant kelp, feather boa, bull kelp and elk kelp.
Interestingly, the color banding that is present on some abalone shells is the result of specific types of consumed algae. The juvenile abalone will generally graze on bacterial films, diatoms and coralline algae. Once they begin to grow, they rely more on drift algae.