Paua: Quick Facts

Scientific name: Haliotis iris (black-footed paua) and Haliotis australis (yellow-footed paua)

Other names: kararuri, hihiwa, karahiwa, karariwha, koeo, korohiwa, kororiwha, marariwha, marari, hauwai, inaka, wharangi (Maori), abalone, black-foot paua (H. iris), yellow-foot paua, queen paua (H. australis).

Ranking: D (Amber - Concerns)

Best Fish Guide: Paua

 Ranking:  D (Amber - Concerns)

What's this? 

Alternative Choice: Best option, no alternative

Top NZ Chef Recipe: Paua and Fennel Salad, Brett McGregor

Description: Paua is a large sea-snail that lives in shallow coastal waters, usually in large groups on rocky reefs, and feeds of algae. There are two species in New Zealand (black-footed and yellow-footed paua), but it is black-footed paua that is most abundant, with virtually the entire commercial fishery targeting it. Paua is taken by hand, mainly by commercial fishers. The attractive shell also has some commercial value. Most wild paua are taken from the South Island, Chatham Islands, Stewart Island and the southern coast of the North Island. 

Ecological concerns: The depleted state and unsustainable current catch levels in a number of areas, for example, declining stocks around Stewart Island (area 5B) and parts of Southland (area 5A), the potential for serial depletion and small-scale recruitment failure and the lack of a management plan. As paua is a highly sought after resource, a black market for paua has led to widespread illegal harvesting. Paua is an important algal grazer within marine ecosystems, so depletion raises wider ecological concerns.

Economic value: 80% is exported to the western Pacific Rim, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Total exports were worth $50 million in 2010-11 similar to the value in 2008.

Best option: Make sure you only buy paua from a reputable retailer to avoid eating illegal caught fish. 


Biology and risk of overfishing (score E)
Status and sustainability of fish catches (score E)
Impact of fishing method and protected, threatened and endangered species captures (score C and E)
Management and management unit (score A and A).

For a full ecological assessment, click here