Paua (known as abalone in other parts of the world but are different species) are a New Zealand icon and are beautiful eating. They are a monovalve (one shell) mollusc and look like a rock under water because of growth on their shells. Inside the shell however is the beautiful nacre used to make jewllery and other ornaments. Mature Paua average 7-14cm but can grow to 18cm.
Bag limit: 10
HABITAT & FEEDING HABITS:
Paua are herbivores that graze on algae attached to rocks. They live on rocky reefs from 1 to 15m deep. Paua should be found in large groups with a variety of sized individuals. They grow much larger and are more abundant in the cooler water of the south of New Zealand. In areas where there is a lot of pressure on paua stocks you have to look harder to find them and they will often be down inside cracks and hidden from plain sight.
Paua are easy to collect as they don't move very fast and if you are quick you can twist them off by hand before they suck down onto the rock. If they do suck down however, you will need to lever them off with something. A screwdiver or flat-tipped knife work best. Because paua are haemophiliacs it is vital that you measure them BEFORE YOU REMOVE THEM FROM THE ROCK. Paua that are damaged while taking them will eventually bleed to death. It is also very important that you don't take all your paua from one patch. Just take the largest one or two from one patch and then move onto another. If you do realize back on the boat that you have some undersized paua don't just throw them over the side as they will invariably die. Take them back down and stick them onto a rock. A waist catch bag is ideal for paua diving as it means you have both hands free or a net bag attached to your float is also very easy to tow around if you find paua.