Project number: 2014-214
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $152,790.36
Principal Investigator: Roy Melville-Smith
Organisation: Curtin University
Project start/end date: 31 Dec 2014 - 29 May 2017


Ocean Grown Abalone Pty Ltd has recently moved from a pilot-stage sea ranching operation to a small commercialised abalone sea ranching operation at the company's aquaculture lease site in Augusta, Western Australia. The pilot projects that have been undertaken to date have provided confirmation of the commercial possibilities for this form of abalone aquaculture, but more research is needed in order to fully understand the limitations of the operation and to maximise operation efficiency and therefore returns to the investors.


1. To understand the source and seasonal movements of drift-algae across the aquaculture lease in Flinders Bay and relate it to local wind-wave climate
2. To evaluate the seasonal variations in the biomass, species composition and functional properties of the drift algal species that form the main food source for greenlip abalone on the lease site
3. To evaluate the health status of ranched greenlip abalone by using various physiological stress indicators and use this status to predict future health/condition of the greenlip abalone

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-9924331-0-9
Author: Roy Melville-Smith
Final Report • 2017-09-30 • 5.15 MB


Keywords: Hydrodynamic, dispersal modelling, drift algae, nutritional value, health, physiological stress
Summary: The Ocean Grown Abalone Pty Ltd sea ranch is the first abalone sea ranching venture to have been commercialised in Australia. The abalone are grown on patented concrete structures that the company has placed on the seabed on their lease site in Flinders Bay, Augusta, Western Australia. In 2016 the farm exported 10 t of product and this volume is set to rapidly increase as the farm expands its artificial habitat structures and reaches full production. It is projected that ~200 t of abalone will be produced by 2022.
The company has undertaken feasibility studies in other areas within Australia that they have identified as suitable for abalone ranching and is looking to expand in the near future. This report deals with research into the drift macro algae and seagrass that forms the food source of abalone on the farm. It examines the movement of the drift algae in Flinders Bay and specifically across the Ocean Grown Abalone lease sites. It then moves from a hydrological focus, to one more biologically centred, by examining the quantity and quality of drift algae and seagrass on the sea ranch and how that changes seasonally through the year. Only one part of the report deals specifically with abalone; it uses different physiological stress indicators as a way of predicting the health/condition of wild-caught and ranched abalone in Flinders Bay.

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