Co-owners Art Seavey and Trevor Fay are hands-on in every phase of the
cultivation and harvest on a daily basis. Their operating
philosophy is to duplicate as closely as possible the abalone's
natural environment of growth in the ocean so they arrive at the
table as natural seafood of the highest quality.
Their custom cultivation system uses cages suspended
in the water column from beneath the Commercial Wharf in Monterey Bay to produce
virtually natural abalone habitats. The farm is fully compatible
with the local marine environment and resources.
They start with “seed” abalone from hatcheries; the seeds are
only about an inch in shell length and weigh just a fraction of
an ounce. As the abalone grow, the number of abalone per habitat
is reduced to maintain desired growth rates. The fastest growing
abalone are selected for grow out to the largest sizes. California red abalone can grow as
fast as inch per year under optimal conditions. It takes about four
years to grow the abalone to market size; at least at 3
½ inches in shell length and weigh a quarter-pound live weight.
The abalone are fed fresh, hand-harvested giant kelp(Macrocystis).
The kelp is harvested each week from the local kelp beds and is
transported in the company's skiff directly to the farm and then
fed to the abalone.
Giant kelp is one of the fastest growing plants on earth. Fronds
have been measured to grow as much as 3 feet per day under ideal
conditions. In this region kelp grows about 14-18 inches per day. Kelp is abundant along the rocky coast of the
Monterey Peninsula, particularly in the spring, summer and fall.
During the winter, storms and less favorable growing conditions
make the kelp canopy less abundant. The Monterey Abalone Company
and other local kelp harvesters coordinate through the Monterey
Kelp Cooperative to ensure that harvests are sustainable and
that other uses of this vital natural resource are not impaired.
The Commercial Wharf, which is owned by the City of Monterey,
was constructed in 1926 and its location provides for strong
tidal action and surge, which promote good water quality. The
configuration of the wharf benefits the farm by shading the
abalone growing under it. It also provides superior access to
the abalone, electricity to power lighting and equipment, and
protection for our farm's workers from the elements.
Prior to the arrival of the Monterey Abalone Company the area below
the wharf had never been utilized. Now it is an innovative,
successful, environmentally-sound work space that generates a
number of jobs in a stimulating marine environment while
producing some of the finest abalone for resorts, restaurants
and individuals across the United States.