Maori Name: Pāua
Latin Name: Haliotis iris
Length: 12.5–18cm (12.5cm legal minimum shell size for harvest)Family:
Paua belong to the Haliotidae family (abalones).
Related species include Yellow-foot paua (H. australis) and Virgin
paua (H. virginea). H. australis is widespread around New Zealand in small numbers. It has a pale yellow-brown shell. The foot is pale yellow with a black rim. H. virginea is similar to H. iris but the foot is white. Four subspecies are found between North Cape and the Sub-Antarctic Islands.
They are widespread around the New Zealand coast. Found from the intertidal zone down to approximately 15 metres.
The commercial fishery for paua dates from the mid-1940s. In the early years of this commercial fishery the meat was generally discarded and only the shell was marketed. However, by the late 1950s both meat and shell were being sold. Most of the current commercial catch is from the Wairarapa coast southwards with the major fishing areas located in the South Island, Marlborough, Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands. In most areas paua can only be harvested by free diving. In addition to catch limits, there are limits on the size of paua that can be harvested. In many areas these have been voluntarily increased by commercial fishers to improve the fishery. Paua abundance is assessed by MPI as being stable in some areas, while in other areas catch limits have been reduced when required and abundance is increasing.
They are harvested year-round, mainly from the Kaikoura and Southland coasts, Stewart Island, and the Chatham Islands. Only Paua over the minimum size limit may be taken by divers who are restricted to using snorkelling equipment.
The secret to tender paua is to gently ease it out of the shell and cook quickly on a high heat with a light, gentle touch. If overcooked, the texture of paua can become rubbery. The colour will change and edges will begin to curl when the paua is cooked. Paua can be tenderised by a variety of methods. Light pounding with a metal hammer or par-boiling for a few minutes in steaming (but not boiling) water are popular options. Grill, stir fry, saute, bake, poach in a seafood broth,barbeque or use in a Kiwi classic: paua fritters.
Paua shells, as well as meat, are highly prized. People now also successfully cultivate Paua pearls - provided they can keep Paua stress levels low!
Paua is a good source of Iodine, Iron, Vitamin B12, Selenium and Copper; and a source of Phosphorus, Magnesium, Potassium, Riboflavin (vitamin B2) and Niacin (vitamin B3).
Seafood is a highly nutritious food and is a great source of protein. Many species are low in saturated fat and a number of them are a good source of Omega 3.