2008/909 Market Access for Abalone
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2008/909 Market Access for Abalone

By Catherine McLeod, Natalie Homan and Andreas Kiermeier



The EU market has effectively been closed to Australian abalone since March 2007. This was due to a new EU regulation that required that abalone be sourced from classified production areas – regions that have routine marine biotoxin and microbiological monitoring programs in place. The roving nature of abalone and the vast fishing zones, under which the Australian wild caught industry operates, made the application of this requirement problematic and as a result, Australian exports ceased.

To assist negotiations for improved EU export requirements for abalone, research was undertaken to provide an information package for AQIS to support the exemption of Australian abalone from the EU regulation. This study reports on the uptake, distribution and depuration of paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) in abalone and a human health risk assessment.

A key finding of the laboratory study was that only low levels of PSTs were retained when abalone were fed high doses of the toxins over an extended period. The final levels of PSTs recorded in the edible portion of abalone were approximately 50 times lower than the maximum permissible limit in shellfish as set by Australia and the EU. Despite the low levels, two potential risk mitigation approaches were also assessed as part of the trial which resulted in a 70 and 75% decrease in toxin levels, respectively.

An assessment of the risk of PST poisoning from the consumption of Australian abalone was also conducted. This risk assessment predicted that only one case of illness is expected to occur every 100 years in the EU from the annual consumption of ~420,000 servings of Australian canned abalone.

The findings of the laboratory study and the risk assessment were undertaken to assist AQIS re-negotiate access for Australian abalone to the potentially lucrative EU market. Official advice from AQIS indicates that Australian abalone can be exported to the EU with minimal entry requirements as of 6 July 2010.


Appendix 2 to this report was embargoed as commercial in confidence until the conclusion of the Seafood CRC and can now be downloaded by clicking here