The abalone industry in Victoria commenced in the early 1960s with many of the early entrants being only part time divers, whilst holding down more ‘traditional’ Monday to Friday jobs.
In 1969 the Government had brought in a requirement for divers to purchase a commercial fishing endorsement for $200. This removed many of the casual participants with the industry on the way to becoming an acknowledged, full time profession.
By the early 80s there were 90 licenses across the state which was further reduced to 71 in 1988 and where it remains to this day where there are 23 Eastern Zone, 34 Central Zone and 14 Western Zone licenses. 1988 also brought the introduction of quotas where the Western Zone had 280t, Central Zone 700t and Eastern Zone 460t.
In 2006 a devastating disease spread through wild abalone stocks from the SA/Vic border all the way to Cape Otway. Abalone biomass in this area was reduced by approximately 95% and the fishery was closed to rebuild. Since 2006, Western and Central Zone have worked hard to rebuild the abalone biomass to allow sustainable harvest to continue through fine scale management, on-board electronic shell measuring machines and industry / government cooperation.
Currently, the abalone harvesting sector contributes 38% of the total revenue derived from commercial fishing in the State of Victoria, and directly employs hundreds of people in harvesting, processing, sales, marketing, science and research.