Project number: 2012-016
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $299,436.00
Principal Investigator: Lachlan Strain
Organisation: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) WA
Project start/end date: 7 Jun 2012 - 29 Jun 2014


Brownlip abalone (Haliotis conicopora) is the largest and possibly fastest growing abalone species in Australia. It is a characteristically unique abalone species, reaching considerably larger maximum sizes (>230 mm), than greenlip (200 mm) and displaying very cryptic behaviour within an extremely limited habitat of caves and crevices. Due to its large size and high meat yield (approx. 35% greater meat weight per length than greenlip abalone) it is extremely suitable for the lucrative wild and brand new cultured or ocean grown, whole meat export markets.

Brownlip abalone currently comprises a small, but very valuable component of the commercial wild abalone fishery in WA (annual value: $1.6 million) and since 1998, annual catches have risen by 25% to over 40 tonnes. However it is yet to be expanded in any quantities in the ocean grown or aquaculture industries. This increase in demand has caused a necessity to further explore the brownlip abalone wild, ocean grown and cultured harvest potentials.

The limitation associated with this exploration is the restriction of information on habitat, growth and mortality of wild populations and the understanding of aquaculture systems and growth rates. The extent of habitat limitation is a key unknown for this species and identification of suitable habitat allows for the potential of stock enhancement to be assessed as a fisheries management tool. Habitat enhancement and ocean grow-out through artificially created reefs could also be considered as a unique production method. Overall the brownlip abalone has marked room for expansion in a variety of production techniques to further enlarge this untapped resources’ harvest potential.


1. Determine the growth and natural mortality of wild brownlip abalone populations.
2. Determine growth rates and mortality of cultured brownlip abalone.
3. Habitat identification to determine release mortality, growth, survival and recapture parameters for potential brownlip abalone stock enhancement.
4. Develop fishing size limits and optimal market sizes based on size distribution and growth to examine the harvest potential of the total industry.
5. Preliminary integrated length-based model and harvest/fishing sizes determined

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-877098-71-0 (Online) 978-1-877098-70-3 (Print)
Author: Lachlan Strain
Final Report • 2017-06-28 • 3.48 MB


The report provides a comprehensive evaluation of Brownlip Abalone biology and fisheries assessment to date. For wild populations, it has provided the most reliable estimates of natural and fishing mortality, size composition and the first to model growth throughout all stages of life. The project has also demonstrated the species ability to be commercially produced in Aquaculture
Keywords: Brownlip Abalone, Haliotis conicopora, Tag-recapture, Aquaculture, Growth Model, Catch curve analysis, Per recruit analysis, Integrated length-based model

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