Project number: 2002-201
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $214,113.00
Principal Investigator: Judith Handlinger
Organisation: University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Project start/end date: 19 Oct 2002 - 30 Aug 2006


Abalone Growers Associations in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia have given their support for the establishment of health monitoring programs of their farm’s stock, and are willing to contribute financially for establishing these and for ongoing monitoring. They see such programs as putting them in a unique position to to enable them to prevent disease in their stock and of meeting future market expectations in relation to health accreditation. This process is threatened by inadequate data on diseases in wild stock, and in some states by limited experience in abalone diagnosis.

Similarly the wild harvest abalone industry recognises vulnerability from a lack of knowledge of the occurrence and distribution of diseases in Australian wild stocks, in a climate where interstate translocation and trade access and quality issues are increasing. They also seek assurances on the health of farmed stock and of stock used for reseeding operations. As a result, the wild abalone sector and fisheries and animal health authorities in these states also strongly support a baseline survey of diseases present in the exploited abalone species, and development of improved surveillance capability.

The project is to acquire this background data on abalone disease, by a health survey covering the natural range of the exploited temperate abalone species. It includes the abalone aquaculture industry and the wild fishery in SA, Victoria, Tasmania, NSW and WA. The project will incorporate associated initial training, permanent presentation on collated results in accessible electronic format (CD and the subprogram’s website), and an abalone disease symposium to develop a net-work of state-based resources for on-going diagnosis, health certification and other shellfish health related functions at reasonable cost to the industry.

Development of the on-going state-based surveillance programs for aquaculture will progress in conjunction with this (without cost to the project), and with consultation with wild fisheries industries and managers, who will also benefit from improved capability for diagnostic and surveillance services.


1. To undertake, over approximately one year, a single-round health survey of abalone from representative wild groups of commercial abalone species throughout their range in 5 states, using statistically relevant samples appropriate to maximize the chances of detection of serious diseases and define the disease agents present.
2. To similarly examine equivalent samples from all abalone farms and reseeding operations in these states.
3. From these to develop a database of abalone disease, their location and apparent prevalence (with confidence limits), then to present these findings to the wild and aquaculture industries and State and National government agencies, and to record them pictorially in accessible electronic format.
4. To expand the pool of abalone health expertise by holding an initial training workshop for collaborating pathologists to facilitate the survey, and a national abalone health meeting to present disease and pathology findings to all relevant pathologists and health service providers, to ensure their adoption.
5. Ensure the resulting information and skills are fully utilized by assisting in the development of cost-effective on-going health surveillance programs through collaboration with the abalone aquaculture industry and state authorities.

Final report

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