Withering abalone syndrome

Xenohaliotis californiensis

This disease shrivels pāua from the inside out. It's not here and keeping it out is a priority to protect this kaimoana taonga (treasured shellfish).

About withering abalone syndrome

This pest comes from the west coast of North America. It attacks the digestive system of abalone. This stops them eating, making them weak and shriveled.

Why this is a problem for New Zealand

This disease could harm our pāua species. It stunts their growth and makes them unappetising.

How it could get here

This disease could hitchhike to New Zealand on used diving gear or aquaculture equipment. Biosecurity New Zealand has strict measures in place to limit the chances of withering abalone syndrome making it through the border. But we need you to play your part – if you are returning to New Zealand with diving gear, make sure it's dry.

How to identify withering abalone syndrome

The main sign that a pāua is infected is a withered 'foot', the part of a pāua that attaches to rocks. Shells remain intact but the body will be shrunken inside.

What to do

If you think you've found an infected pāua:

  • take a photo
  • collect a sample
  • record location and landmarks
  • call MPI on 0800 80 99 66 to report your find.

Note: This information is a summary of this disease's global distribution and potential impacts to New Zealand.

Last reviewed: