The first national survey of Australian wild-caught abalone was conducted between September 2012 and December 2013. The aim of the survey was to determine the presence of paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs), amnesic shellfish toxins (ASTs), and diarrhetic shellfish toxins (DSTs) in wild-caught abalone at levels above the current Codex marine biotoxin limits during the 2013 fishing season. Abalone (n = 190) were collected from 68 abalone-fishing blocks for which the combined annual harvest accounts for 80% of Australian production. Concurrent seawater samples were collected and enumerated for potentially toxic phytoplankton. The foot and viscera tissues of each abalone sample were analyzed separately for PSTs, ASTs, and DSTs. No samples (abalone foot or viscera) contained toxins at levels exceeding the marine biotoxin limits stipulated by Codex. The resulting prevalence estimate suggests that less than 1.6% of the commercially caught wild abalone population in Australia were contaminated with marine biotoxins at levels above the regulatory limit during the survey period. ASTs were detected at very low (trace) levels in the foot and viscera tissue of four and three abalone samples, respectively. To our knowledge, this represents the first reported detection of domoic acid in Australian abalone. PSTs also were detected at very low levels in 17 samples of abalone foot tissue and 6 samples of abalone viscera. The association between the low levels of ASTs and PSTs detected in abalone and the presence of potential toxin-producing phytoplankton in seawater samples was weak. DSTs were not detected in any abalone despite the detection of very low levels of DST-producing phytoplankton in a small number (9 of 77) of seawater samples. The results of this survey should be useful for public health risk assessments and provide additional evidence that the prevalence of marine biotoxins in Australian wild-caught abalone is very low.

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