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Lake George Recreational Mesh Netting
PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture is seeking community feedback on a proposal by the Lake George Management Committee on future management arrangements for recreational mesh net fishing at Lake George.
Media release
Discussion Paper (DOC 609.5 KB)
Feedback form (DOC 84.0 KB)

Changes to recreational rock lobster devices - Northern Zone
New arrangements are in place for recreational rock lobster devices used in the Northern Zone of the rock lobster fishery.
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Frequently asked questions
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Goolwa Beach Pipi Fishing closure
Goolwa Beach has been closed to recreational fishing for Pipi (Goolwa Cockles) until midnight 31 May 2014 due to concerns over Diarrhetic Shellfish toxin levels in the Pipi.
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View map of closure (JPG 965.1 KB)

SA Marine Parks: Commercial Fisheries Voluntary Catch/Effort Reduction Program
The offer period for licence holders to surrender licence and/or entitlements is now closed.
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Port River Mud Cockle closure
The Port River Mud Cockle fishing closure has been extended until 30 June 2015 due to ongoing concerns about sustainability.
Map of closure area
Frequently asked questions
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Changes to commercial and recreational Blue Swimmer Crab fishing limits
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Frequently asked questions
Map of reduction area

Fish mortalities response
Latest update available now

Spencer Gulf Cuttlefish closure
Cuttlefish fishing in northern Spencer Gulf has been closed until 14 February 2015.
Frequently asked questions

Map of closure area

Recreational shark fishing restrictions
Restrictions on targeted recreational shark fishing in metropolitan waters have been updated.
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Redmap launches in SA
Redmap is a new and interactive website, that invites the Australian community to spot, log and map marine species that are uncommon in Australia, or along particular parts of our coast.
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Recreational fishing possession limits begin
Recreational fishing possession limits are now in place in South Australia, limiting the amount of King George Whiting, Pipi and Razorfish that recreational fishers can catch and stockpile.
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Abalone

abalon1aHaliotis species

Recreational fishers are not permitted to sell or trade their catch.

What are abalone?

Abalone are large marine snails which feed on algae and cling to rocks by a large muscular foot. The muscular foot provides the meat, which is eaten.

The two main species of abalone taken in South Australia are the greenlip abalone (Haliotis laevigata) and the blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra).

abalone2

Greenlip abalone

abalone4

Blacklip abalone

Three other species of abalone are common in South Australia, however they seldom reach the minimum legal length of 13cm.

Habitat

Abalone lives on the rocky bottom and each species has a distinctive habitat. Greenlip abalone occurs in two types of habitats. They live on low reef areas (often in a part sand/ part rock environment) at depths ranging from 5 to 40 metres. Such areas, with reef outcropping from the sand, are common off the central and west coasts of South Australia and provide the main commercial fishing grounds.

Greenlip abalone also occur in rough water at the base of steeply sloping granite cliffs, and usually along the sides of gutters or clefts from depths of 10 to 25 metres. In areas of calm water, greenlip abalone may occur in shallower water on rocky habitat near seagrass beds.

Blacklip abalone has a large variation of habitat over its geographic range. In Western Australia, western and central South Australia through to New South Wales blacklip abalone are found on reefs, usually hidden in caves, fissures and narrow crevices. The blacklip abalone depth range rarely exceeds 10 metres and is usually less than 5 metres.

Movement, food and feeding

Abalone seldom move about (except sometimes in stormy weather) and generally remain fixed to a particular spot on the rock. If this spot is such that the current or surge transports drifting algae to the abalone, the animal will grow rapidly. In areas where water movement is poor, or algae is seasonally scarce, then the abalone has a poorer food supply and grows only slowly or seasonally and in these areas, divers have reported 'stunted populations'.

Water movement as well as the availability of drift algae are important factors influencing the type of habitat where abalone are found. Greenlip abalone numbers are usually greatest on the leeward side of reefs, headlands, and islands where the abalone are protected from the full force of wave action. Drift algae also tends to gather in these locations and provides a better supply of food.

Predators

According to its habitat each abalone species has its own predators. Young abalone during their crevice-living phase are preyed upon by whelks, crabs, octopus and wrase (also known as parrot fish). Adult abalone are eaten by fish, octopus, rock lobster, stingrays and starfish. Stingrays are the most important natural predator of greenlip abalone and account for some 70% to 80% of natural deaths.

Reproduction

Abalone are known as 'broadcast fertilisers'. That is, eggs and sperm are shed freely into the water where fertilisation takes place. In South Australia the green lip abalone spawns between October and February. Blacklip abalone spawn between February and April and again between October and December.

At age one, abalone's average length is about 25 millimetres, at five years about 130 millimetres and at six years about 145 millimetres. This is an average growth rate. In some locations growth is faster, in other locations growth may be slower. Both greenlip and blacklip abalone species are thought to live to about 15 years of age and can reach a maximum length of 150 to 220 mm.

The recreational fishery is regulated through size limits, bag limits and area closures (eg aquatic reserves).

Value and importance of the resource to South Australia

The modern South Australian abalone fishery commenced in 1967. In the early 1970s the number of licences were restricted and the fishery was divided into three geographical zones, being the Western, Central and Southern zones. In 1980 commercial licences became transferable. In 1985 quotas were introduced and extended to all zones by 1990.

Australia is the largest abalone producing country in the world, with quotas applied in all abalone-producing states enabling annual production of 4 to 5 thousand tonnes. This is over one third of total world production. South Australia accounts for about 20-25% of the Australian catch.

Supplies of abalone have decreased steadily in many parts of the world with stocks collapsing under excessive fishing pressure or inappropriate management.

Illegal harvesting (poaching) is a major concern and offenders may be subject to heavy fines and jail sentences.

Fishing for abalone

South Australia is divided into three zones:

  • Southern zone: the coastal waters east of longitude 139º east
  • Central zone: the coastal waters between longitude 136º 30' east and 139º east
  • Western zone: the coastal waters west of longitude 136º 30' east.

Map of Abalone Zones

Abalone may be taken by recreational fishers provided certain requirements are met.

Catch limits, legal lengths and closed areas

Greenlip abaloneBlacklip abalone

Type of fish
Marine
Common name
Abalone
Scientific name
Haliotis species
Minimum legal length

For greenlip abalone from the Western Zone the minimum legal length is 14.5 cm.

For all other species in all other waters the minimum legal length is 13.0 cm.

Abalone must be measured across the greatest dimension of the shell.

Personal daily bag limit
A combined daily bag limit of five abalone (whether greenlip or blacklip) per person per day, for example, 3 greenlip and 2 blacklip per day.
Daily boat limit

When two or more people are fishing, a combined daily boat limit of 10 abalone (whether greenlip or blacklip) per boat per day, for example 6 greenlip and 4 blacklip or 2 greenlip and 8 blacklip.

If only one person in the boat is taking abalone, the personal bag limit of five abalone per day applies.

Closed areas

The taking of abalone is prohibited in all:

Contact your local PIRSA Fisheries Office for details of seasonal and temporary restrictions.

Handling abalone

The diver must:

  • carry a suitable measuring device
  • measure abalone as soon as it is removed from the surface where it was attached; if undersized, immediately replace it in the same spot
  • bring the abalone above high water mark before removing the meat from the shell (shucking).
Species information
More information about abalone