Title:

Application of molecular genetics to the Australian abalone fisheries: forensic protocols for species identification and blacklip stock structure

Project Number:

1999-164

Organisation:

University of Tasmania (UTAS)

Principal Investigator:

Malcolm Haddon

Project Status:

Completed

FRDC Expenditure:

$353,888.00

Program(s):

Environment

Final Report - 1999-164 - Application of molecular genetics to the Australian abalone fisheries: forensic protocols for species identification and blacklip stock structure

Final Report
ISBN:1-876-996-12-9
ISSN:
Author(s):Malcolm Haddon
Date Published:July 2010
Of the nineteen abalone (Haliotidae) species recognised in Australian waters (Geiger 1999), ten are endemic and two dominate the commercial, recreational and illegal harvests in southern States: the blacklip abalone Haliotis rubra Leach and the greenlip abalone H. laevigata Donovan. A third species, Roe’s abalone H. roei Gray, is a significant component of the Western Australian harvest. All three species, as well as the tropical H. asinina Linnaeus are also important as aquaculture species. The largest Australian (and world) fishery is in Tasmanian waters (half of Australia’s harvest) and is focused predominantly on the blacklip abalone. Other species such as H. scalaris (Leach) and H. conicopora Péron have potential commercial value in temperate waters.
 
Internationally, overfishing, illegal fishing, pollution and recruitment failures have been implicated in the decline of many abalone fisheries (e.g. Hobday et al. 2001). However, the Australian fishery has had a relatively constant harvest over the past decade (1990-91 5.2 kt, 1997-98 5.2 kt, 1999/00 5.5 kt), with a total value over $230m in 1999/00 (ABARE 2001). The full extent of the illegal harvest in Australia is unknown, yet whatever the value, it is a large illegal business that may eventually impact on the commercial resource.
Keywords:  Haliotidae, Haliotis, abalone, species identification, H. rubra, blacklip abalone, H. laevigata, population genetics, mtDNA, microsatellites

Objectives

1. To refine, and where necessary establish, abalone species identification protocols to forensic standards suitable for required fisheries compliance.

2. To define the stock structure of blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra) around Tasmania, using polymorphic nuclear DNA microsatellite markers.

3. To determine a suitable sampling and analysis regime for other temperate Australian abalone fisheries.

4. To determine the possible effects of harvesting on the genetic conservation of the blacklip abalone (H. rubra), by comparing the allozyme variation of two areas of the Tasmanian fishery with results obtained from the same areas in the late 1980s.