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My name is Alice and I’m your commodity consultant for today.
Here is all the information I have found on the Paua Shell:
“Appearance: Roughly oval shaped shell, with a row of several holes used for breathing and reproduction.
Size: Up to 180mm in length for the black-foot, usually 10-140mm; yellow-foot up to 110mm, and the whitefoot up to 80mm.
Colour: The inside of the shell is multicoloured with blue and green hues predominant in the black-foot; flesh is white with a black covering.
Habitat: Sub-tidal, rocky coastline.
Predators: Crabs, lobsters, octopuses, starfish and fish
Availability for fishing: More abundant in the lower North Island and the South Island, where it is colder; available all year round.
New Zealand’s three native species of päua are distinctive because of their amazing multi-coloured shells. Päua are very important for Mäori and there is a large commercial market for both their flesh and their decorative shells. Päua exports rose from $34 million in 1991 to a peak of $80 million in 2001, before dropping to $51 million in 2003. There is also a large recreational fishery for päua.
Two species of päua were introduced into the Quota Management System (QMS) in 1986. The QMS monitors stocks and catches, allowing the government to set Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits for individual species to ensure the sustainability of New Zealand’s fisheries. The QMS provides quotas which provide the right to harvest the species in perpetuity. These rights can be bought, sold or leased, allowing the creation of asset values for this resource. As at 2003, the total asset value of New Zealand’s päua resource managed under the QMS was $330 million, with the Chatham Islands having the highest regional value of $75 million.
What are they like?
New Zealand’s päua, (known as abalone in other countries), are all unique species of abalone found only in New Zealand, and are distinguished by their brilliantly coloured shells. Päua have an oval shaped shell, inside which is a large muscular foot which clings to rocks. They have a pair of eyes, a mouth and tentacles, and breathe through gills which are near their mouth under a row of pores in the shell.
Where are they found?
Päua are found around the coast of New Zealand, in shallow water clinging to rocks. They are much more abundant, and grow larger, in the colder waters around Stewart Island and Southland.
What is their life cycle?
Male and female päua release thousands of sperm and eggs into the water through the holes in their shells, an event known as broadcast spawning. The fertilised eggs hatch into microscopic larvae which float around for about a week then settle on the bottom of the ocean and start to develop shells. The survival rate of päua is very low since many juveniles do not find a suitable habitat in which to grow, and are subject to predation. Surviving juveniles continue to be susceptible to predation, especially from starfish which cover the päua breathing holes, forcing it to detach from the rock it was clinging to.
How are they caught?
Päua are caught when fishers free dive (diving without the use of breathing apparatus) and use blunt instruments to prise the shellfish from the rock.
Information sourced from Statistics New Zealand. www.stats.govt.nz”
Source: About Paua
“Paua shells (say "pah-wah") are the most beautiful shells in the world. They are found in the deep waters off of the South Island of New Zealand near the Antarctic. This deep cold water produces a hard shell with rich deep beautiful color. Colours vary as the shell is viewed at different angles ranging from vibrant blues, to greens to purples, with an iridescence shine.
The Maori named the shells Paua and have used the Paua Shell in their native art for centuries. The shell is held in high regard as a treasure from the God of the sea.
The Paua shell is used to make stunning jewelry.”
Source: Maori Source
“In New Zealand's southern province of Otago, a group of recreational fishermen are about to go on their regular hunt for shellfish. It is autumn here and they will be diving into waters so cold that full-body wetsuits are needed. But it is not just any mollusc that they're after. They are looking for a humble sea snail that has become one of the world's most expensive seafood items.
Blackfoot abalone is known here by its indigenous Maori name, paua. It is not the prettiest creature and could easily be mistaken for a rock. But its unique black flesh and taste has made it a hot commodity, particularly in Asia where it is a prized delicacy.
Locally, a single abalone commands a hefty retail price of up to NZ$50 (US$43; £26). In some Asian restaurants, it would set you back more than US$100.
There are more than 100 species of abalone around the world, but the blackfoot abalone is one of the largest and found only in New Zealand waters.
Apart from their strong suction to rocks, their only other natural defence is camouflage. Strict rules are needed to help protect the species from overfishing.
Fishermen cannot use any sort of underwater breathing equipment and are allowed to pick only 10 abalone per day.
They also have to be of a certain size; the legal recreational size is 125mm long - about five years of growing. However, abalone can reach over 20cm long and live for decades.
It takes only minutes for the fishermen to spot the mollusc clinging to rocks in waters about 5m deep. Within an hour of the dive, they have caught enough and in true New Zealand style, a barbecue is set up on the back of their truck.
The abalone is quickly shucked (shell removed) and cooked right there in the car park.
Among the successful fishermen is the barrel-chested Kees Meeuws, a former rugby legend for the New Zealand All Blacks. He describes abalone as an acquired taste.
"The texture is a bit like calamari, a little chewy, but it's got a distinct flavour and is more like a steak rather than a shellfish," he says. Abalone divers face strict rules such as no underwater breathing equipment Each piece of abalone has to be weighed and measured before harvesting
Meeuws is part of a group called Paua to the People, which last year stood up to commercial divers who wanted to harvest areas only recreational fishermen had access to. Eventually the government decided to maintain the restrictions on commercial divers, which Meeuws and his group called a real success…
Name given to a variety of marine snails belonging to the Haliotidae family
The convex shells of abalone are composed of nacre, or mother of pearl
Other common names include ear shells or muttonfish in Australia, Venus's ears in South Africa and ormer in the UK
The flesh is a delicacy in New Zealand, France, East Asia and parts of Latin America
"The industry knows that, they wanted to open it up to make their catch a little easier - completely understandable but at the end of the day if they go and take everything out of our coastline it's not good for the public." There has been increasing pressure on commercial abalone producers because of rising demand from Asia for the delicacy.
Like recreational divers, commercial producers in New Zealand are also subject to strict guidelines such as only free diving. They also face catch limits but, unlike recreational fishermen, they can take hundreds of kilos in their quotas…
Polished abalone shells are a popular tourist souvenir in New Zealand. But people continue to fish for the blackfoot abalone because it is not just the meat that is prized.
The shell itself also brings in tourist dollars because once polished, its stunning colours make it a popular souvenir.
For the average New Zealander though, the cultural value of the abalone may outweigh its monetary perks. It has been eaten as a delicacy since the island was first settled hundreds of years ago. It's also been used in Maori art for centuries. As a result, locals view it as a national treasure and are likely to protect the right for anyone here to have access to such a prized and valuable delicacy.”
Source: Why abalone is New Zealand's catch of the day