Abalone is a common name for any of a group of small to very large edible sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Haliotidae.
Other common names are ear shells, sea ears, and muttonfish or muttonshells in Australia, ormer in Great Britain, and pāua in New Zealand.
Tasmania supplies approximately 25% of the yearly world abalone harvest. Around 12,500 Tasmanians recreationally fish for blacklip and greenlip abalone. For blacklip abalone, the size limit varies from between 138 millimetres (5.4 in) for the southern end of the state and 127 millimetres (5.0 in) for the northern end of the state. Greenlip abalone have a minimum size of 145 millimetres (5.7 in), except for an area around Perkin’s Bay in the north of the state where the minimum size is 132 millimetres (5.2 in). With a recreational abalone licence, there is a bag limit of 10 per day, and a total possession limit of 20. Scuba diving for abalone is allowed, and has a rich history in Australia. (Scuba diving for abalone in the states of New South Wales and Western Australia is illegal; a free-diving catch limit of two is allowed).
Victoria has had an active abalone fishery since the late 1950s. The state is sectioned into three fishing zones, Eastern, Central and Western with each fisher required a zone allocated licence. Harvesting is performed by divers using surface supplied air “hookah” systems operating from runabout style, outboard powered boats. While the diver seeks out colonies of abalone amongst the reef beds the deckhand operates the boat, known as working “live” and stays above where the diver is working. Bags of abalone pried from the rocks are brought to the surface by the diver or by way of “shot line”, where the deckhand drops a weighted rope for the catch bag to be connected then retrieved. Divers measure each abalone before removing from the reef and the deckhand re-measures each abalone and removes excess weed growth from the shell. Since 2002 the Victorian Industry has seen a significant decline in catches, with the total allowable catch (TAC) reduced from 1440 tonnes to 787 tonnes for the 2011/12 fishing year. This is due to dwindling stocks and most notably the abalone virus Ganglioneuritis which is fast spreading and lethal to abalone stocks.
Information sourced from Wikipedia.