Abblox is the world leading sea based abalone culture system. At a cubic metre containment it is small enough to be used singly on an experimental farm or in thousands by a major producer. It can sit inter-tidally with internal concrete block anchorage, hang in units of one or four from exposed long-line systems or float in the ground-breaking structure designed by Fusion Marine using salmon cage technology. As with most successful inventions the patented Abblox system is deceptively simple, think it is just a mesh box? Think again.
This box can be packed as 10 full units on a pallet for economical transport. Construction is achieved by non-skilled labour using standard cable ties and takes about 40 minutes per unit for the basic cube. Depending on the choice of plastic for manufacture with HDPE and silicone rubber for maximum strength or UV stabilised polypropylene for lowest cost you will never have to budget above 150 euros per cubic metre unit.
The mesh size and all joints are designed to retain 15mm length abalone of all species. This mesh is brimming with technical novelty. It is in fact two meshes, a fine 5.5mm x 5.5mm internal mesh, protected by a 25mm external one. This outer mesh is not flat but creates an open cube, this gives phenomenal strength and wear resistance but also allows 62% transparency, a figure that 12mm square oyster mesh cannot achieve. Most importantly, the design has no 'dead spots', the mesh goes to all the edges and corners with the structural integrity being created externally.
A mesh that has been covered by biofouling soon restricts water flow. With Abblox biofouling is minimised at every step. The mesh is constructed so as to generate a double venturi effect, accelerating biofouling organisms just at the point that they would consider settling . The plastic can be chosen as bright blue ,the least attractive colour to biofouling (see www.crabproject.com). The choice of HDPE and silicone provides an almost 'non-stick' surface that light power washing soon cleans. Finally the Fusion Marine floating structure allows successive units to be temporarily raised out of the water for air drying while still in service.
Every sea-based abalone farm will have different physical challenges, Abblox can respond to these by successive internal or external strengthening by standard construction steels. An example could be 12 m of 16mm rebar within the structural tubes also giving 8kg of mass. Even 32mm bar will fit in these structures and exceed 50kg mass. Alternatively steels or ropes can be fitted for location or suspension.
France Haliotis has chosen to create a 4 unit 'table ' frame of angle steels , this fits the lifting capacity of their farm barge. Jersey Sea Farms places individual units near the maximum low water mark with 8 standard construction blocks weighing 120Kg dry tightly fitting inside. The choice is yours.
Access is a matter of choice as well. Within the mouldings are guidelines to cut either quarter or half plate doors. A simple hinge can be made with standard 5mm sailing grade braided rope and the door can be locked by any number of standard aquaculture systems such as the oyster hook and rubber.
Trials where abalone were grown for six months by France Haliotis within Abblox and purpose modified Geo Box structures (the previous France Haliotis standard unit) are being prepared for formal peer reviewed publication. These trails have shown a startling 41% improvement in weight gain using the Abblox system. This may well represent a full years reduction in growing time to commercial size.