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Abalone Farming

Cultivation Process
Monterey Abalone Company (MAC) begins the culture process by buying seed abalone. Typically, we purchase our abalone seed at a size equivalent to 25 - 30 millimeters in shell length, and 3 - 5 grams in weight. At this size the animals are already at least one year old. The seed are stocked into the culture units at a relatively high density in terms of the number of abalone. The abalone are attended to on a weekly basis as described below for a period of three to five years. During this time, the abalone are growing, and the number of abalone per culture unit will be reduced so as to promote good growth while keeping the number of culture units to a minimum. After about three years of growth, the abalone will have attained an average size of approximately 85 mm, and they will weigh approximately 110 grams each, the smallest size that MAC brings to market.

During the grow-out period, the abalone are fed once a week. This process involves hauling the culture unit out of the water and hosing it off with seawater to reduce biofouling. The unit is opened, checked for the presence of predators such as crab, starfish, and octopus, which are then returned to the wild. Then, enough kelp is added to feed the abalone for another week, the unit is closed up, and returned to the water.

Cultivation Units
MAC is currently utilizing two types of culture units, barrels and cages. The barrels and cages are suspended in the water utilizing a variety of mooring techniques that have been developed with the practical experience gained through 17 years of working in the local conditions. The mooring systems typically utilize ropes, metal clips and plastic fasteners in a variety of configurations suited to the barrel or cage’s specific placement and position.

Feeding
As outlined above the abalone are typically fed once per week. Giant Kelp ( Macrocystis pyrifera) is hand-harvested in nearby beds from a 22 foot skiff four days per week and makes up about 95% of their diet. The other 5% is various species of red algae that is either cultured by MAC or collected from local beach wrack. Currently, MAC harvests and feeds approximately 5 tons of kelp weekly. It is transported by our boat directly to our facility under the wharf and fed to the abalone. Kelp is a natural food of wild abalone, and is the only feed used by MAC. It results in a farmed product that tastes like it comes form the wild, and has the advantage of reducing impacts to water quality as compared to feeding artificial feeds. Farmed abalone has been listed as a “Best Choice” by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program.

Monterey Abalone Company
160 Municipal Wharf No.2   Monterey, California 93940
Tel/fax (831) 646-0350     info@montereyabalone.com