When strolling along a remote Wellington beach, I encountered the beautiful and unusual mollusc named paua. Pronounced similiarly to “power” (you can now reread the title of this post with the correct musical inflection), this sea creature is also known as abalone in some countries.
Paua is a species of abalone that is unique to New Zealand. The unusual-looking animal is recognised by its magnificently coloured, iridescent shell, and has a large foot underneath used to hold fast onto rock faces. These little treasures enjoy meals of fresh seaweed, good books and long walks along the beach… no wait, that’s me. Except the seaweed bit, obviously.
To keep the paua population alive and swimming, there are strict regulations in place including a daily catch limit and a minimum size for removal from the sea. Taking undersized paua can adversely affect the population and there is constant monitoring from government bodies regarding size and catch numbers.
Paua is used in two very different ways – as a source of food and a form of jewellery. Tourists (and New Zealanders!) can purchase beautiful pendants, rings and earrings from souvenir shops, while taste-testing the little sea critters at their local restaurant. Paua is also signficant in Maori culture and is a delicacy used in cooking or simply eaten fresh from the sea.
It is vitally important to ensure the paua population continues to thrive. Do your part and be a considerate tourist – fish within the guidelines, only take what you need and think sustainably. What is left behind now, can reproduce and be harvested later.