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FISHTECH INC. Questions and Answers

Through the years, FISHTECH INC. has been asked many basic questions about farming abalone. The following most-frequently-asked questions were compiled from hundreds of our clients and potential clients in over 40 countries. We hope you find your questions in this list and that our response is helpful to you.

I. General Abalone Farming Questions:
   1. What are the ideal conditions for farming abalone?
   2. What kind of expertise is necessary to farm abalone?
   3. What kind of requirements and regulations are involved in farming abalone?
   4. Is it possible to farm more than one species of abalone?
   5. What are the difficulties in introducing new species of abalone to an area
       for farming?
   6. What licenses are required to farm abalone?
   7. What environmental regulations are associated with abalone farming?
   8. What do I feed abalone?
   9. How many days can abalone live in fresh (non-salt) waters?
   10. How long does it take an abalone to reach market-size?
   11. What could be considered the most important factor for abalone farming?
   12. Is there an odor involved?
   13. What consideration should I have for building an abalone hatchery?
   14. Where can I get juvenile abalone and how much do they cost?
   15. When farming abalone in the sea are ocean waves a problem?
   16. Are there abalone diseases?
   17. What kind of training do you offer?
II. Site Requirements:
   1. Where is the best place to grow abalone?
   2. Which species of abalone should I produce?
   3. How much water do I need?
   4. What kind of water quality do I need to farm abalone?
   5. What is the ideal water temperature for farming abalone?
   6. How much area do I need to farm abalone?
   7. What is a safe salinity range for growing abalone?
   8. Does the outside (air) temperature influence farming abalone?
III. Marketing Questions:
   1. How long does it take an abalone to reach market-size?
   2. What is the average market price for farmed abalone?
   3. Where are the abalone markets to be found?
   4. How would you characterize the abalone market?
   5. Are some abalone species preferred more than others in the marketplace?
IV. Financial Questions:
   1. How much money do I need to begin abalone farming?
   2. Would it be best to begin with a small pilot-project?
   3. What is the relationship of abalone farming costs relative to land and/or
       water-surface acreage, labor, equipment, and other significant operating
       costs?
   4. How much time is required to realize a return on investment?
V. Other:
   1. How long does it take to become proficient at farming abalone?
   2. Are there resources for learning more about abalone and abalone farming
       in general?
   3. How do I select the best abalone consulting firm to help me my project?

I. General Abalone Farming Questions:

1. What are the ideal conditions for farming abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: The "ideal" conditions for farming abalone are the environmental, physical, and operating conditions that provide for the fastest growth and best survival for the specific species of abalone being grown at a particular facility.

2. What kind of expertise is necessary to farm abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: Abalone farming is hard work, but it also uses science and business sense to be successful. A typical farm may have one or more biologists helping with the science part of the business, but it will also have several, if not many, laborers to feed and care for the abalone.

3. What kind of requirements and regulations are involved in farming abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: The requirements and regulations will vary greatly from site to site. Typically there are local, regional and/or national requirements and/or regulations associated with business licenses, species of abalone that can be farmed, construction of facilities, land-use, labor, water extraction and discharges, noise, and many other parameters.

4. Is it possible to farm more than one species of abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: Yes, facilities can be constructed to accommodate more than one species, however, unless the farm has water supplies of different temperatures, all of the species must be able to grow profitably at the farm's water temperature.

5. What are the difficulties in introducing new species of abalone to an area for farming?

FISHTECH INC.: Typically, the primary issue for such introductions is receiving governmental permission for such activities. To assist in such new introductions, abalone can be inspected prior to introducing to a new area to make sure they are healthy and not carrying any disease causing organisms. If necessary, as a further measure quarantine facilities can be constructed that serve to isolate new species from the surrounding environment.

6.What licenses are required to farm abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: Licensing requirements will be specific for each site, but may include federal, regional, provincial, and/or local licenses.

7. What environmental regulations are associated with abalone farming?

FISHTECH INC.: Environmental regulations will vary from location to location, but typically involve (a) the quality of water being discharged from land-based farms, (b) associated noises and/or activities affecting surrounding areas or, in the case of sea-based farms, nearby marine life, and (c) in some cases visual aspects relating to the physical structures of the farm.

8. What do I feed abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: Abalone are herbivores, so when farming them it is typical to feed seaweed and/or manufactured foods. The specific type of food will depend upon the species of abalone, the availability of a food type, and the design of the facilities.

9. How many days can abalone live in fresh (non-salt) waters?

FISHTECH INC.: None at all.

10. How long does it take an abalone to reach market-size?

FISHTECH INC.: Water quality, food, facility designs, husbandry, and species all influence the growing time for abalone. As a general "rule-of-thumb" temperate species will grow around 1" (2.5 cm) per year, with sub-tropical species growing from 1" to 1.5" per year (2.5-3.5 cm), and tropical species growing up to 1.8" (4.5 cm) per year. With a typical market-size for farmed abalone ranging from 2 to 4" (5-10 cm) it might take from 1.5 to 4 years to grow a marketable abalone.

11. What could be considered the most important factor for abalone farming?

FISHTECH INC.: Out of all of the variables associated with farming abalone, matching the correct location with the correct species and using the correct technology to get your product to market is the most important factor to being successful at abalone farming.

12. Is there an odor involved?

FISHTECH INC.: With proper design and good management there is usually no odor associated with abalone farming.

13. What consideration should I have for building an abalone hatchery?

FISHTECH INC.: Obviously you will need the proper water quality, available land, and the correct expertise to construct and operate such a facility. A consideration for some will be the availability of "seed" abalone to purchase, which may be a better option than the process of building a hatchery.

14. Where can I get juvenile abalone and how much do they cost?

FISHTECH INC.: There are commercial "seed" farms which sell abalone of different sizes. The cost (in US dollars) for "seed" abalone generally ranges from $ 0.02 to $ 0.04 for each millimeter of shell length.

15. When farming abalone in the sea are ocean waves a problem?

FISHTECH INC.: Abalone can be farmed in the sea using several different systems that can withstand heavy seas of 10' (3m) or more, or even be located on the seabed completely away from surface conditions. The greatest significance of oceanic waves is the ability for boats and people to get to the farm site and service it.

16. Are there abalone diseases?

FISHTECH INC.: There are a few diseases that affect abalone, including some bacterial and parasitic ones. However, the use of clean abalone stocks and good husbandry practices generally prevents any significant occurrences of such problems.

17. What kind of training do you offer?

FISHTECH INC. offers practical, hands-on abalone farming training to its clients for all aspects of abalone production, from spawn to market of the product. The training includes demonstrations, written materials, and staff training.


II. Site Requirements:

1. Where is the best place to grow abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: Abalone occur worldwide, with commercially important species found in temperate, sub-tropical, and tropical waters. Many places throughout the world are excellent for growing abalone as long as there is good environmental, physical, and operating conditions to promote fast growth and good survival.

2. Which species of abalone should I produce?

FISHTECH INC.: The species of abalone that you produce will be determined primarily by the water temperature at your facility and any restrictions you may have on which abalone species you may grow.

3. How much water do I need?

FISHTECH INC.: A facility's size, and the number of times the water is used before being discharged, will determine how much water you need. A small, single pass facility might need several hundred gallons per minute, yet a large, multiple water use operation might have the same water requirements. On the other hand a large, single pass facility could require several thousands of gallon of water each minute.

4. What kind of water quality do I need to farm abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: Water quality can be manipulated to help you grow abalone but in many cases it is generally better to try to start with a water temperature range that is correct for the species you are farming, normal oceanic salinity around 33 ppt, pH around 8.0 - 8.3, oxygen saturation of 70 - 90 %, and no toxic elements such as heavy metals.

5. What is the ideal water temperature for farming abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: Each species has a preferred temperature range, but generally temperate species can be found in water temperatures ranging from 46 to 64 F, (8 - 18 C), with subtropical species found in ranges of 57 to 79 F, (14 - 26 C), and tropical species located in temperatures around 60 to 86 F, (16 - 30 C).

6. How much area do I need to farm abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: The scale and type of any farm will determine the amount of area needed. Commercial land-based facilities might need as little as 0.5 to 1 hectare, or as much as 5 to 10 hectares. Sea-based facilities could have a similar range of area requirements.

7. What is a safe salinity range for growing abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: Abalone generally prefer a salinity range of 32 - 34 ppt, however some species can grow quite well at slightly lower or higher saltiness, and most species can withstand short exposures to low saltiness around 27-30 ppt and saltiness higher than 40 ppt.

8. Does the outside (air) temperature influence farming abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: A correctly designed facility will keep such influences to a minimum in areas where there are significant atmospheric temperatures, either extremely hot or cold.


III. Marketing Questions:

1. How long does it take an abalone to reach market-size?

FISHTECH INC.: Water quality, food, facility designs, husbandry, and species all influence the growing time for abalone. As a general "rule-of-thumb" temperate species will grow around 1" (2.5 cm) per year, with sub-tropical species growing from 1" to 1.5" per year (2.5-3.5 cm), and tropical species growing up to 1.8" (4.5 cm) per year. With a typical market-size for farmed abalone ranging from 2 to 4" (5-10 cm) it might take from 1.5 to 4 years to grow a marketable abalone.

2. What is the average market price for farmed abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: The "average" price depend upon species, size, quality, and location of the highest priced markets. Live abalone demand the highest prices in Asia and markets that cater to Asian markets worldwide. Late 2006 live abalone prices range from $45/kg to over $90/kg for the highest value species (for the most part the extremes range depend on size and quality. Premium processed fresh meat abalone will range from $150 to $200/kg. Frozen meat is sold in a much lower range and some extremely fast growing tropical live abalone is sold as low as $20/kg.

3. Where are the abalone markets to be found?

FISHTECH INC.: Worldwide.

4. How would you characterize the abalone market?

FISHTECH INC.: Since the 1960's there has been a downward trend in the supply of abalone from wild fisheries all over the world. The has left a tremendous gap in the supply of abalone products to the marketplace, a gap for which abalone farming sits uniquely positioned to take advantage. Because of this abalone farming has a very positive outlook for the future.

5. Are some abalone species preferred more than others in the marketplace?

FISHTECH INC.: Each marketplace typically has a preference ranking, and in some cases a corresponding price difference, for the various species of abalone. Fortunately, most species of farmed abalone generally rank high in all market places, and there are niches within some markets where farmed abalone can command the best prices.


IV. Financial Questions:

1. How much money do I need to begin abalone farming?

FISHTECH INC.: The size, location, and management of any abalone farm are just a few of many variables that will determine how much money is needed to start abalone farming. Commercial ventures generally require several hundred thousands of dollars to several million dollars to get started and achieve a profitable level of income.

2. Would it be best to begin with a small pilot-project?

FISHTECH INC.: A pilot project is an excellent way to begin if there is a limited amount of starting capital, or there is need to evaluate certain "site -specific" elements in order to finalize a full-scale design. However, in other cases where a site has been thoroughly quantified, and there is no desire to delay achieving a return on invested money by starting with a pilot-project, a full-scale project may be the best way to begin.

3. What is the relationship of abalone farming costs relative to land and/or water-surface acreage, labor, equipment, and other significant operating costs?

FISHTECH INC.: The relationship of farming costs is highly dependent upon the specifics of each site. "Prime" real-estate might be a major investment all by itself. Other "hard assets" such as the physical facilities, i.e., tanks, buildings, piping, ocean structures, etc..... could consume 40% or more of the total capital required before a commercial venture achieves annual profitability. For operating costs labor and food can account for the majority of expenses, 40-50% and 30-40% respectively. Other expenses are generally a small percentage of the total dollars needed.

4. How much time is required to realize a return on investment?

FFISHTECH INC.: The abalone species, growing time, size of investment, business strategy, along with many other factors will influence how soon a farm will become profitable. Under the right scenario it is possible to see substantial returns from money invested within three to five years after a project begins.


V. Other:

1. How long does it take to become proficient at farming abalone?

FISHTECH INC.: With correct training and technology the staff of an abalone farm will know the correct way to grow abalone for that site within one to two production cycles.

2. Are there resources for learning more about abalone and abalone farming in general?

FISHTECH INC.: One starting point for information can be found in A Handbook of Abalone & other Gastropods by Kirk Hahn, (CRC Press Boca Raton, ISBN No. 0-8493 3527-7). You will also find other publications, bibliographies, and papers at your local university libraries, and even on the internet.

3. How do I select the best abalone consulting firm to help me my project?

FISHTECH INC.: Ask about each firm's background, their experience, and get recommendations from their clients. When you have done that, you will find FISHTECH at the top of you list.

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FISHTECH INC
Offices: Sausalito and San Rafael California
Research Facilities on the ocean, Bodega Bay, California
Mailing Address: Box 6886, San Rafael, California 94903
Tel: 415-332-8900
Fax: 415-332-8901
email: mail@fishtech.com
Offices in other countries: contact headquarters for referral to office nearest to you.

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