Imagine...up to $4,480 for a single meal of Abalone!

by Gillian Murdoch

Abalone Shell

Abalone Shell

SINGAPORE - Fireworks and red lanterns mark the Lunar New Year across Asia, but the festivities herald abalone poaching season in Australia and New Zealand.

The multimillion-dollar trade in the small shellfish, prized by Chinese communities as a New Year dinner, sees a seasonal windfall both for the abalone industry and the criminal gangs who run poaching operations in Australia and New Zealand.

"For every two abalone taken legally, we estimate one is taken illegally for the black market," Nathan McNamara, who manages abalone stocks in coastal New South Wales, told Reuters.

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