In recent years, abalone fisheries around the world have shown similar trends, with landings rapidly increasing and then falling as abalone stocks were overfished. A rapid increase in the illegal exploitation of abalone has contributed to population crashes and, sometimes, to the complete decommercialization of abalone fishing industries. Concurrently, however, there has been a rapid increase in abalone farming and, to some extent, farm production has helped to ensure that the overall relationship between supply and demand has not changed too much from what existed during the 1970s. What has changed, however, is the overall availability of abalone on the world market, which has almost doubled from about 20,000 mt during the 1970s to almost 40,000 mt in 2008. Also changed is the species mix of the overall demand, with production and demand in China being a dominant factor but, unfortunately, not necessarily impacting as much as many people expected on overall world demand. The reasons for this will be explored and suggestions will be made on what might be appropriate responses from the abalone farming industry.
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Vol. 29 • No. 3