Abalone divers use relatively small, trailer size vessels as a platform for harvesting abalone. These vessels may be towed to the dive location or used from a larger mother boat operation. The holder of an abalone dive licence must also have access to abalone quota.
In recent years, a number of dynamics have impacted abalone stocks in Tasmanian waters. In response, the Government and abalone industry have implemented significant cuts to the abalone Total Allowable Catch (TAC) by almost a half, to the current level of approximately 1,500 tonnes
There is a distinct separation of the investment sector and catching sector of the wild caught Tasmanian abalone industry. This has created a level of conflict, with specific reference to the beach price paid to investors, the catch price paid to divers ($/kg rate), and the excess capacity (number of divers) to catch a declining TAC.
Careers in the Abalone industry
Skipper / Diver
Skipper qualifications vary from Coxswain 2 to Master 4 Certificates of Competency, depending on the vessel length. Divers need a minimum of an Open Water Dive certification.
On the job:
Most abalone boats are operated by a skipper who also has dive qualifications. The skipper is the Master of the vessel, responsible for all fishing operations. Skipper is also responsible for sales and marketing of the catch once landed.
Skipper either owns or leases quota to dive for Black/Green lip abalone. A diver leasing quota will be paid a catch price per kg. Take home wage is the amount after boat expenses and deckhand have been paid.
Fishing Licence Personal + Fishing Licence (abalone dive)
Experience preferred. Coxswains restricted as a minimum as well as a Workplace 2 First Aid Certificate with Oxygen Provider.
On the job:
General deck duties, assisting with dive operations.
Based on a per/kg catch arrangement. Usually $1/kg.