Abalone demand is steady

IT HAS been an inconsistent start to the abalone season so far with divers contending with ever changing weather conditions.

Although at the mercy of the weather, divers no longer have to race to stock the market with abalone for Chinese New Year thanks to the changes made to the green lip abalone quota in 2015. 

Divers now only catch 15 per cent of the quota per month for January and February.

South Australian Abalone Industry Association president Jonas Woolford said there was always a push for green lip through Chinese New Year and this year sales were consistent. 

Mr Woolford said the changes made to the way the industry caught its quota meant international markets were supplied with the best quality abalone throughout the entire year.

He said having stock ready for the market also helped when the weather conditions were not ideal for fishing at the start of the season. 

“Because we catch and freeze our green lip when it’s at its best quality we can stock the market,” Mr Woolford said. 

“We don’t notice the difference in terms of price, the price doesn’t spike but there is definitely a spike in demand.”

He said historically in January, before Chinese New Year, there would be a race to fill orders but with the industry now fishing most of its quota later in the year, that pressure had been alleviated.

Mr Woolford said what was hard for the industry at this time of the year was not knowing how much the market would want.

He said although demand had been down in recent years due to the global financial crisis, sales had been consistently good. 

“We’re selling all of our quota and I’m sure if we had more we could sell that too,” Mr Woolford said.

Mr Woolford said abalone prices had been slowly building and the China Free Trade Agreement was also helping the industry. 

He said while it would take some time for the trade relationships with China to shore up, there were already positive signs.