Abalone are so expensive because they are not plentiful and considered a delicacy. Now, however, the food is becoming more plentiful thanks to aquaculture, but in parts of the world is still reserved solely for special occasions. In its natural habitat, albacore can be difficult to catch in their locations at the bottom of the seafloor.
Yes, the abalone is considered threatened, and is protected under law in many places around the world, including Canada and Australia, where abalone hatcheries are still failing to meet the massive demand for this delicacy, creating a huge problem with poaching–and it isn’t hard considering they live in the shallow waters of the intertidal zone.
The populations of abalone worldwide are declining, and despite the inevitable upset to the ecosystem that their loss will create, people are unwilling, generally, to stop consuming them.
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