Abalone is a shellfish which is a prized dish in China, where it is alleged to have aphrodisiac properties. Lord Patel has eaten it once, in 1985. It has all the taste of, and texture of a rubber door stop. It also resulted in a bout of explosive and involuntary diarrohhea in a crowded lift of the Mandarin Hotel which Lord Patel and his fellow lift travellers will not soon or easily forget.
Smuggling, of what is now a protected species from the Cape in South Africa has become a major source of income of Chinese Triads and has almost, and will soon lead to it's total extinction. here are five species of abalone endemic to South Africa, but only one, Haliotis midae L , is of any commercial value. Known in South Africa as perlemoen= mother of pearl. It is a large marine snail with a shell length of up to 230mm that lives in shallow water and takes seven to nine years to mature.
In a fascinating Oil Drum post on the subject of oil depletion - whale oil and it's accompanying fashion product, whale bone for ladies corsets a correspondent (Barrett 808) introduced a graph of the price of the product.
He laments that this looks like the typical exponential increase in price, followed by extinction and demand destruction. The history of the smuggling trade mixture of the weakening rand, the presence of Chinese organised crime, porous borders, post indpendence poitcs and the growth of thedrug trade are major factors more here.
South African Police are still hauling in poachers.