Abalone Background

Background

Commercial fishing for abalone in Tasmanian waters commenced in the late 1950s with annual catches in the order of 2000 tonne being landed by the mid 1960s. The fishery has predominantly focused on blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra), with greenlip abalone (Haliotis laevigata) typically accounting for around 5% of the total wild harvest in Tasmania. Digitised or hard copies of regulations and catch returns are not available for the fishery prior to 1975, and complete digital records exist from 1975 onwards. Between 1975 and 1984 abalone catches were reported by the skipper of the fishing vessel as estimated weights on a monthly basis. Between 1985 and 1992, catches were reported as landed weights per landing by the diver, again on monthly returns. Estimated weights by block are unavailable for this period, because catches taken from several blocks in one trip may be reported as caught from only one of those blocks. Since 1992, abalone fishers were required to complete and submit daily reports of the landed weight and estimated catch weight in each block fished. The sum of estimated weights by zone is usually within 3% of the sum of landed weights by zone, but between 1992 and 1995 was up to 10% less.


Early Abalone Production 1960-1981

Annual tonnages of abalone production from Tasmania have been reproduced from ”Summary of Statistics – Tasmania”, Abalone Situation Report 10, Demersal Mollusc Research Group, published by CSIRO, 1982. Tasmanian Year Book totals were published each year from 1967 by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics (annual totals from 1964 were reported in the 1967 edition). All three totals (Diver Returns, Processor Returns, Tasmanian Year Book) were reported by financial year. Abalone catch prior to 1968 was reported by divers in general fish returns as miscellaneous catch, and annual totals are incomplete. Catches are believed to have been substantially underreported between 1960 and 1981 (i.e. catch totals were higher than shown here). Processor receipts were from Tasmanian processors only: much of the early catch was freighted to interstate processors and is not included amongst these processor receipts. Little or no processing was done in Tasmania prior to 1964. The source of the Tasmanian Year Book totals was not reported.

YearDiver PaP returnsProcessor PbP returnsTasmanian Year Book Pc
1960****
1961****
1962****
1963****
1964*4933
1965*225225
1966412753727
1967105017222003
1968196623542792
1969189421392113
1970229726132613
1971250434883495
1972228729712977
1973170321742172
1974188321062060
1975191921082108
1976228924292429
1977226323682368
1978282325242525
1979276231003100
1980339132043214
1981380036213743
*Records unavailable. ** Records not published.