Sustainable Seafood: Abalone Farming In Monterey (video)

In 2009, while attending the Sustainable Food Institute at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I was curious to learn more about sustainable seafood first hand. I wanted to visit a sustainable seafood operation and see what was entailed. I found out there was a small company in town that raised abalone on their farm on the wharf. Well, actually it’s under the wharf, as part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Abalone Farmed Seafood

Abalone Farmed Seafood, Monterey California

Art Seavey has been raising abalone at Monterey Abalone Company since 1994. Trained in aquaculture, with an advance degree in Ecology, Seavey and his business partner Trevor Fay, work hard to keep the water of the Monterey Bay pristine. Their methods of harvesting the kelp have no adverse impact on the plant nor its environs, and because the abalone require clean water to thrive they have educated those around them about the importance of keeping the bay free from pollutants.

Similar to traditional farms of the land, Seavey noted that there aren’t many young people turning to aquaculture as a career. He’s not sure why, but he’s glad he has made a career of it. It’s environmentally and financially sustainable. He is quick to note that it’s not a get rich quick scheme. “Certainly abalone farming is not a get rich scheme. We’re not driving Porsche’s and we’re not going on long vacations, but we do have employees here that have been here for years, who do a great job, and we support as best as we can. We really care for them. So we think we’re financially sustainable as well as environmentally sustainable.”

As an added bonus, farmed abalone is listed on the Seafood Watch Guide as a Best Choice.


  1. says

    That is one of the saddest videos I’ve seen in a long time. I grew up in San Diego and my dad was a free diver who collected wild abalone like foragers collect wild chanterelles or porcinis. The abalones Dad collected were about three times as big as the tiny one that was a “good size” on the “farm.” I’ve never tasted farmed abalone but I bet it doesn’t hold a candle to the wild abalone Dad once collected.

    • says

      Yes, it is very sad. Due to overfishing and other environmental effects, much of the oceans bounty has been diminished. According to several scientists from the recent Sustainable Foods Institute (a yearly 2 day conference held at the Monterey Bay Aquarium), the future of seafood is going to be dependent upon aquaculture as a source for many types of fish. And until wild abalone populations increase to a healthy number, farmed abalone is the best choice, according to the Seafood Watch guide.

      I can’t comment on the taste – for I haven’t tasted farmed or wild abalone. But hold on to those memories. Hopefully a future generation will experience what your dad once did.

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