Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Abalone season has arrived

Get your bag and hat ready – abalone season in the South-West is in full swing.

These reef-dwelling molluscs are a seafood delicacy and one not readily available in other countries. Luckily for us, Western Australia has one of the few sustainable wild abalone fisheries in the world. Like fishing, it’s a recreational activity (you catch your own) as well as a delicious, healthy meal.

What are they?

They’re technically sea snails and look a tad like clams and mussels, with an outside shell and a meaty portion inside. There are 11 species in Western Australia but only three are permitted for fishing: Brownlip, Greenlip and Roe’s abalone. To see what they look like, visit the Department of Fisheries abalone page.

What you need to know

There are a few things you need to be aware of before you get your feet wet. Firstly, there are designated zones with different rules. This is to keep the activity sustainable and stocks healthy. The abalone industry has collapsed overseas, so the Western Australian government has enforced strict rules on what can be caught, how many and where, so there is enough abalone for everyone in the future.

Where you can find abalone:

  • Zone 1 from Busselton Jetty and north to Moore River is open on select Saturdays over summer 2017-2018. These are 9 December, 13 January, and 3 and 17 February.
  • Zone 2 from Moore River and north to the Northern Territory border is closed until further notice.
  • Zone 3 from Busselton Jetty, continuing south all the way down to South Australia. This area is open from 1 October 2017 until 15 May 2018.

As you can see, if you’re interested in catching abalone in the South-West, you’re in luck. The only location in this area that’s off limits is the Yallingup Reef Protected Area. The second thing you need to know is the amount and size you are allowed to catch. This is, again, in the interest of keeping abalone sustainable.

  • 20 Roe’s abalone per person, per day
  • 5 Greenlip/Brownlip (combined) per person, per day
  • Roe’s abalone must not be smaller than 60mm
  • Greenlip/Brownlip abalone must not be smaller than 140mm.

There are around 18,000 licences issued each year. Apply for yours here.

What you’ll need

You will be knee to waist-deep in the water, so you’ll need clothes that you don’t mind getting wet. Remember to choose an outfit that won’t get waterlogged and weigh you down. A wet suit is ideal, if you have one. You will also need good shoes such as running shoes or diving booties to protect yourself from being cut on the reef.

You will also need something to weigh and measure the abalone, a bag to collect them in, and a knife or screwdriver to coax them off the reef. There are large fines for taking too many or those under the legal size limit, so make sure you have all these items on you.

For information on the rules surrounding abalone, the Department of Fisheries has written a helpful booklet.

Book a house by the ocean this abalone season. Choose from one of our luxury properties to come home to, put your feet up and cook your abalone catch for dinner.

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