Greenlip abalone (Haliotis laevigata) (Donovan 1808) is a preferred aquaculture species in temperate Australia and selective breeding programs are being developed for this species. This study presents the results of a genetic parameter study for a small population grown on a farm in Tasmania, Australia. A total of 21 families were produced from 14 parents, with all parents except one being used in at least two families. Length and total weight were measured at four periods during the grow-out (10, 21, 27, and 38 mo after spawning) and at the final assessment meat and shell weights were also assessed. Because of issues with tag durability, only 17 of the original 21 families were recovered at final assessment. Genetic variation was low and, at best, the age 3 y heritabilities for total weight, meat weight, and length were 0.10, 0.10, and 0.04 respectively. Despite this low genetic variation, economically important gains appear possible in this small population, with a 5% gain in total weight being predicted. Prior to age 2.5 y, the genetic variation for length and weight appeared to be masked by maternal, larval, and settlement effects. The main factors limiting genetic gains in this study were difficulties in raising large numbers of pedigreed families in separate larval and settlement tanks, the effects of variability in the stages up to and including settlement and difficulties in tagging animals. DNA pedigree assignment is seen as a way to overcome these limitations.
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Vol. 26 • No. 3