Culture of Tropical Abalone
Another expensive delicacy in the Orient is abalone. In Southeast Asia, this abalone is also being obliterated by over-harvesting to satisfy epicurean demands in China and Japan. Temperate species require five to seven years to reach commercial size but tropical abalone, Haliotis asinina, requires only one year to culture. To take advantage of this growing market, Poseidon has developed effective hatchery technologies for commercial production of abalone.

Abalone has been a highly priced delicacy in China and Japan for a long time and has recently become a popular item in the exotic cuisines of North America and Europe. Over the last two decades, abalone culture technologies have progressed so well that temperate species of abalone, traditionally harvested only in China, Japan, southern Australia and California, are now being commercially cultured and harvested in many locations, including Mexico and other parts of the United States.

The typical growing period of abalone is three to four years under artificial conditions and often longer in the wild. This fact, coupled with restrictions on wild harvesting except during allowable periods during the year, still limit the availability of this product to a wider range of markets at affordable prices. In Southeast Asia, the tropical abalone, Haliotis asinina Linne, is being harvested for export to Japan and China. In these countries, regulations on harvesting do not exist, or are poorly enforced, so wild populations have dwindled below sustainable levels in many locations. Though the flavor and appearance of tropical abalone differs from temperate species, hence the resulting lower value, the tropical abalone market remains a multi-million dollar industry in many Southeast Asian countries. Since tropical abalone can reach commercial size in approximately one year of culture, the productivity and year round availability will make this species a strong candidate for mass production and mass marketing in the near future.

Culture technologies for the tropical abalone currently lag far behind temperate abalone cultures. Though some small scale projects have been undertaken in Thailand and the Philippines, commercial scale projects have not been adequately developed. At Poseidon’s facilities, semi-commercial culture of tropical abalone from spawning to marketing has already been undertaken successfully. Site selection is now in progress and joint venture alliances are being contemplated for the development of a large commercial-scale operation for the production of cultured tropical abalone in the Pacific.