SEVEN years after the south-west abalone industry was brought to its knees by a devastating virus, a Portland abalone farm has posted a record production.
Burgeoning local and overseas demand and new methods has seen more than 90 tonnes come out of the Portland abalone farm during the past year.
General manager Tim Rudge said good weather and some new efficiencies in feeding had driven the bumper harvest.
“We had a casual climate, the summer wasn’t too hot for us. We made improvements in our animal husbandry and in nutrition,” Mr Rudge said.
The abalone farm, located in Narrawong east of Portland, is wholly owned by Coastal Seafarms.
Mr Rudge said management was preparing to make a case for a massive expansion that would provide new jobs. “We’re really excited at potentially expanding to a situation where we could increase our production by 100 tonnes,” he said.
“We’ve got a planning proposal for the board of directors of the company but it hasn’t been finalised yet.”
China is the world’s biggest consumer of abalone but 70 per cent of Coastal Seafarms stock is sent to Japan.
“We’ve got a niche market in Japan. It’s growing, which is odd because Japan is in recession,” Mr Rudge said.
Wholesaling giant Cosco has also begun stocking products in addition to Asian restaurants across Australia.
The record production makes a distant memory of the abalone virus that decimated the industry in 2006.
“The virus completely destroyed the farm. We had to destroy all of our stock. It was a real setback,” Mr Rudge said.