This paper concerns the conservation of abalone stocks in a genetic and fisheries sense. We review genetic and ecological information relating to the differentiation of abalone stocks in South Australia and propose that metapopulation theory provides an apt framework in which to develop the concept of an abalone stock. We consider what is a minimum viable population for abalone and illustrate our discussion with a case study of an abalone population that declined through a combination of fishing, recruitment failure, and inadequate protection by a refugium. Refugia can play an important role in abalone conservation by maintaining egg production and genetic diversity and by preserving populations for scientific study.
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