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The illegal market in Australian abalone

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 225

Rebecca Tailby and Frances Gant
ISBN 0 642 24260 7 ISSN 0817-8542
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, April 2002


This paper explores the nature of the illicit market in Australian abalone, describing stages in the market from poaching to processing to selling to the end consumer. Abalone poachers are loosely categorised into five types of offenders: organised poachers, licensed divers, shore based divers, extended family groups, and individuals. The paper describes illegal processing methods and pathways to consumers, with illegal abalone being primarily intended for export. The report also describes the intersection between the legal and illegal markets, and potential options for disrupting the illicit market. A case study of an illegal abalone processor, Tat Sang Loo, is also reported.