Brad Adams is on the brink of successfully farming highly prized abalone.

Story By Kerry Faulkner

It was a ‘big money day’ for abalone rancher Brad Adams and he was nervous. Millions of invested dollars and more than a decade of research led to this one day last year, when he pushed more than 70,000 small abalone off a boat in Flinders Bay, on Western Australia’s south coast, and watched them sink toward the sandy bottom. They were the first of 1.6 million abalone that he will farm on 120 hectares of artificial reef built of concrete ‘abitats’ by his company Ocean Grown Abalone.
Eight months on, Brad’s butterflies have gone. Survival rates are very good and the maiden harvest scheduled for July is expected to deliver 12 tonnes of two-year-old abalone. Brad has trials underway in Esperance and Bremer Bay and will push into South Australia if his application for a trial at Port Lincoln is successful.
A strapping ocean diver, hair bleached blonder by hours in the sun and sea, Brad is Australia’s first abalone rancher. His late father Terry was a pioneer of the wild abalone industry in Western Australia in the 1960s. Terry’s three sons – Brad, Nathan and Darren – also became wild catchers of the green-lipped delicacy until, Brad says, there just weren’t enough to be found anymore. Their scarcity prompted him to explore farming abalone, not in hatcheries on land as others had done, but in the ocean using a hybrid system that blends the best elements of wild and farmed.

This Story is from Issue #107

Outback Magazine: June/July 2016