(China, Japan, Sea Ranched)
Abalone farmed in land- and sea-based enclosures are a "Best Choice." Sea-ranched abalone from China and Japan are an "Avoid."
Awabi, Green Abalone, Pink Abalone, Red Abalone
Abalone is known as awabi when prepared for sushi.
Abalone are native to temperate and tropical oceans around the world. Of the 100 species found worldwide, approximately 15 are farmed for human consumption.
Roughly one-fifth of all abalone in the U.S. market is raised domestically. The rest is imported primarily from Mexico, Australia, Chile and China. These countries generally use land-based tanks or tethered ocean cages where the farmed abalone primarily eat marine algae. In addition, minimal chemical use means effluent from these farms has very little environmental impact.
In China and Japan, some abalone are raised in "sea ranches" that are, in essence, underwater pastures for farmed abalone to graze. Large areas of seafloor are modified for farming purposes, resulting in significant changes to the habitat. Potential predators and other grazing species are removed, and widespread control over the types of animals and plants found within the ranched area is maintained.
While farmed abalone is usually a good option to buy, sea-ranched abalone is ranked as an "Avoid" due to the potential significant changes to ocean habitat and the disruption and disturbance to all other forms of marine life that live within the ranch.
Look for abalone farmed in land- or sea-based enclosures as a "Best Choice."