Western Australian seafood company creates world first abalone breakthrough

A world-first breakthrough on Western Australia’s southern coastline is being celebrated as a game-changing innovation for abalone, which is now formally recognised as a Wild Enhanced Fishery, meeting the international gold standard for sustainable seafood management by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The ‘ocean-ranching’ concept was established when WA-based Rare Foods Australia developed a model to combine the sustainability and environmental benefits of aquaculture with the market appeal and premium pricing of wild-catch fisheries.

The result is a 413-hectare underwater ocean ranch in the nutrient-rich waters of Flinders Bay near Augusta, which is home to hundreds of thousands of greenlip abalone, which are hand-planted to grow among a field of specially designed underwater structures, known as ‘ab-itats’.

WA Fishing Industry Council Chief Executive Officer, Darryl Hockey said the ocean-ranching model is a real game-changer for abalone farming as it is totally sustainable and brings together the best of wild-catch fishing, with the consistency and harvesting economics of aquaculture.  Furthermore, it generates local jobs and valuable export income for coastal communities.

“It’s very clever. The abalone grow naturally as they do in the ocean environment but can be more effectively monitored during their growth cycle, and safely harvested when they are ready, which provides a level of product consistency which is not possible in wild-catch environments.

“This is a great example of how WA fishers are thinking outside the traditional models. This innovative approach to sustainable abalone fishing is a world-first that combines the consumer appeal of wild-catch fisheries with the product consistency and localised harvesting of aquaculture.

“We are confident the domestic and international markets will welcome this product, which is now back by the MSC eco-tick, which is the global gold standard for sustainability,” Darryl said.

Rare Foods Australia’s Chief Executive Rob Jorden said the achievement marks a critical milestone in the company’s journey and anchors its strategic commitment to customers to strengthen our core business.

“MSC certification supports the global tension point between the care for the protection of our oceans but the demand for wild produce to be supplied with continuity and consistency to chefs globally.  We are absolutely committed to being rare and reassuringly sustainable and look forward to broadening our offer to our local Australian and global customers,” he said.

Brad Adams, Executive Director – Corporate Development said the company had been sustainably managing abalone for more than fifteen years.

“Since 2007, we have worked tirelessly using sustainable practices in the supply of Greenlip Abalone.  Through innovation and patented solutions, we designed and created a reef. We are proud to have pioneered this process and now be recognized independently and internationally as a Wild Enhanced Fishery.

“It’s been an exciting journey to get here, but this is just the beginning with new and exciting possibilities being explored through the business,” Brad said.