Abalone

Haliotis discus hannai; Haliotis tuberculata

Method of production — Farmed
Production country — France
Production method — Open water crate
Certification — Organic certification
Picture of Abalone

Sustainability rating one info

Sustainability overview

Updated: November 2019.

Abalone farmed in France in open sea crates may have some environmental impacts. They do not require any commercial feed as they are fed an algal-only diet. They are farmed on a relatively small-scale and therefore habitat alteration is minimal and no freshwater input is required.

Abalone in this assessment are AB certified organic. This means that there are no chemicals used and any potential problems with parasites or pathogenic disease outbreak are limited by effective management. Organic certification also ensures that any regulations and management are effective. While there are currently no official marine spatial plans in existence in France, four Interregional Directorates for the Sea have been established and these include aquaculture.

This rating is based on full compliance with certification requirements. Commercial buyers should therefore ensure that full compliance has been achieved in order for this rating to be applicable.

Feed Resources

Criterion score: 5

Abalone do not require any commercial feed sources as they are fed locally-harvested handpicked seaweed only. Boats take ‘fresh food’ stocks out to each of the fish-farming structures. No fish meal or fish oil is used and no palm oil or soy is used. Therefore, it gains the highest score in the feed section of the assessment.

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Environmental Impacts

Criterion score: 4

Abalone farmed in France in open sea crates may have some environmental impacts. They are farmed on a relatively small scale using open crates on the seabed and therefore the habitat alteration is minimal and no freshwater input is required. Abalone in this assessment are AB certified organic. This means that there are no chemicals used and that discharges that do occur are within organic certification boundaries.

As production takes place in open sea crates, there is a potential problem with parasites and pathogenic disease outbreak, however, the impact on wild species is limited by effective management, and there are no known physiological impacts to wild species. Juveniles are hatchery based with broodstock spawning in June and July. As both European and Japanese species of Abalone are farmed, there is a potential escape risk and the environmental impact of this on native species and their habitats is unknown. Organic production standards mean that there are no direct negative impacts to predatory species.

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Fish Health and Welfare

Criterion score: 1

Animal welfare is not applicable for shellfish as it is not covered by EU regulations on welfare. Humane slaughter has been carried out by RSPCA definitions.

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Management

Criterion score: 6

The producers in this unit of assessment farm to independently audited AB Organic certification (EU 834/2007) and overall, there are regulations in place to address the environmental impacts of production and they are thought to be fully effective. Farm level Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is not mandatory for shellfish aquaculture. The Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC, together with the Birds Directive 2009/147/EC, form the cornerstones of the EU’s nature conservation policy. They have two main purposes: 1. To protect rare and endangered species across their entire natural range within the EU through a series of species protection provisions. And 2. To conserve the core areas of a number of rare and endangered species and habitat types through the designation and management of sites under the Natura 2000 Network.

While there are currently no official marine spatial plans in existence in France, four Interregional Directorates for the Sea cover the whole coast of metropolitan France: East Channel-North Sea; North Atlantic-West Channel; South Atlantic; Mediterranean. For each of the 4 coastlines, plans are established under the authority of the prefet coordinators, the prefet de region nominated for that purpose, and the prefet maritime. This includes aquaculture.

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Production method

Open water crate

Abalone can be farmed at sea in submerged crates that rest on the seabed, they graze on seaweed for food.

Biology

Abalone (called ormer in France and elsewhere) are molluscs, belonging to a group of animals known as gastropods (the same group as whelks). Abalone have one shell which is flattened, its shape gave their genus the name of Haliotis which means “sea ear”. They have a worldwide distribution, along the coastal waters of every continent, except the Atlantic coast of South America, the Caribbean, and the East Coast of the United States. Abalones reach sexual maturity at a small size, and fertility is high and increases exponentially with size. The spawning season varies among species ; for e.g.. Red abalone in some locations spawn throughout the year. Sexes are separate and fertilization is external, both the eggs and sperm are broadcast into the water . A 1.5 inch abalone may spawn 10,000 eggs or more at a time, while an 8 inch abalone may spawn 11 million or more eggs. The fertilized eggs hatch into floating larvae that feed on plankton until their shells begin to form. Once the shell forms, the juvenile abalone sinks to the bottom where it clings to rocks and crevices with its single powerful foot. Settling rates appear to be variable. After settling, abalones change their diet and feed on macroalgae. Abalone feed on algae in the wild and on some farms, although a manufactured feed is also used. In the wild abalone numbers have declined for a number of reasons, the most serious being illegal harvesting.

References

Basuyaux, O., Blin, J-L., Costil, K., Richard, O., Lebel, J-M. and Serpentini, A. 2018. Assessing the impacts of several algae-based diets on cultured European abalone (Haliotis tuberculata). Aquatic Living Resources, 31(28). Available at https://www.alr-journal.org/articles/alr/abs/2018/01/alr170121/alr170121.html [Accessed on 08.08.2019].

European Commission, 2012. Guidance on Aquaculture and Natura 2000. Available at https://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/sites/fisheries/files/docs/body/guidance-aquaculture-natura2000.pdf [Accessed on 08.08.2019].

European MSP Platform, 2019. France. Available at https://www.msp-platform.eu/countries/france [Accessed on 04.11.2019].

Hannon, C., Officer, R. A. and Le Dorven, J., 2013. Review of the technical challenges facing aquaculture of the European abalone Haliotis tuberculata in Ireland. Aquacult Int, 21, pp. 243-254. Available at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10499-012-9584-7 [Accessed on 04.11.2019].

Her Majesty the Abalone. 2019. A small taste of heaven. Available at http://www.finisterebrittany.com/her-majesty-abalone [Accessed on 04.11..2019].

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. 2017. Abalone. Available at https://www.seafoodwatch.org/-/m/sfw/pdf/reports/a/mba_seafoodwatch_abalonefarmedreport.pdf [Accessed on 08.10.2019].

Seafood Source. 2014. French grower cashing in on abalone. Available at https://www.seafoodsource.com/features/french-grower-cashing-in-on-abalone [Accessed on 04.11.2019].