68 South Bay Accent
local farms send boats out into the surf several
times a week to lop off the tops of the
kelp that’s abundant for much of the year.
“We go through about four or five tons
of fresh kelp every week,” reports Trevor
Fay, co-owner of Monterey Abalone. “We
harvest by hand from the canopy near
the surface. It’s like cutting the grass out
in the front yard; it’s going to come right
back.” To keep his abs from drastic dieting
during the periods when kelp is hard to
find, his crew collects extra seaweed that’s
• Monterey Abalone Company
160 Municipal Wharf No.2, Monterey
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30
p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Products: live abalone, California spiny lobster,
whelks, sea cucumbers, red sea urchin
salted to preserve it so it’s ready when the
Unlike American Abalone, Fay’s farm
is submerged in Monterey Bay, located
under a commercial wharf accessed via
a trapdoor and tall ladder. Multiple wet
planks laid between the pilings under the
pier give access to 250 stacked metal mesh
cages where about 4,000 abalone silently
eat and slowly grow in the cool bay waters.
A system of ropes and pulleys is used to
lift the cages out of the water frequently
so more kelp can be stuffed in to feed the
Monterey Abalone tries to duplicate the
environment of wild abalone as much as
possible while preventing natural predators
like crabs, sea stars, octopuses, sea
otters and other species from gobbling
up their abs. The strong current that runs
through the bay carries away waste from
the farm, which then feeds other nearby
ocean residents, according to Fay. “We’re
about as much a farm-to-fork concept as it
Its taste and scarcity coupled with ONGOING DEMAND
and SIMPLE GREED have given abalone a backstory
worthy of CINEMA TREATMENTS involving frequent
accidental deaths, larceny and skulking government
agents running sting operations.
and several kinds of local algae.
• American Abalone Farms
245 Davenport Landing Road, Davenport
Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Products: live abalone and fresh steaks; fresh
shellfish, wild salmon and other local products.