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Jan 24, 2021 - 10:49:25 AM
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208 posts since 8/11/2015

...or more precisely... what are those green shell blanks they sell in various online sites? They are typically named Abalone, Green Abalone, Paua Abalone or similar. But what are they really? Abalone is not a species name. And shells and mollusks are not flat either, like these blanks mostly are.

Lately I have been involved in an interesting email exchange with the Norwegian Environment Agency, the government branch in my country that deal with such things as the import of protected species. They cannot tell me what Amazon or eBay Abalone might be. Since it isn’t a Latin species name, as far as they are concerned, it could be anything. The burden of documentation would be on me.

If you search the CITES appendices for the word Abalone you get no results. The word is irrelevant as far as customs policies are concerned. Google tells me that Abalone is a common term for any species in the Haliotidae family. That name does appear in the lists. Searching for it on speciesplus.net which is a searchable database of protected species, the answer comes back as «This species is not currently listed in the CITES Appendices.»

Still, most people seem to look at you like some sort of evil international smuggling kingpin if you mention it. Other Hangout threads mention it as «highly regulated». But where exactly does it say this in the CITES lists?

«Not currently listed» doesn’t help me if I were to buy so called Green Abalone or Paua online. Because the customs will see a shell type material and look for my documentation. Which will not be there since I have yet to find any retailers who provide this for Abalone. Possibly because it isn’t restricted at all? But ironically it is likely to be stopped precisely because everybody believes it is restricted and it doesn’t come with paperwork.

I suspect that it is the same situation for most of you guys if you buy shell blanks from abroad and bring them into the US, although you probably have several domestic retailers who have sourced it locally or who have already done the evil smuggling for you. ;)

P.S. I should mention that I’m not merely looking to «get away with it». The odds of a small envelope not containing drugs being stopped in customs in my country these days are very small, so I probably could very much get away with it if that was the only concern. But I don’t especially want to break the law or contribute to ruining the environment. Still I am attracted to craftmanship and the use of other materials than plastics. And I want to know.


 

Jan 24, 2021 - 12:59:40 PM
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921 posts since 1/30/2019

So abalone, (sometimes called ormer, or paua in NZ) are marine shells from the genus Haliotis.
There was one South African species listed on CITES, but it was removed in 2010. So there are now no Haliotis species on CITES.
But several are IUCN "red list" species meaning they are critically endangered. Including the South African one (Haliotis midea, the black abalone) that was removed from CITES.
So you likely wouldn't be committing international wildlife Crime, but could be buying critically endangered wildlife.
I wonder what else could be used as inlay that would be better environmentally? North Wales slate from here in the UK could work on blonde wood. Contrasting woods? Recycled copper wire?
There seems to be a "thing" now amongst some makers to use mammoth ivory. Obviously this is not sustainable (they don't make mammoths any more) but can't make an already extinct mammal any more extinct. However, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of mammoth ivory as it has the potential to encourage the disguising of poached elephant ivory - dyed to look like mammoth.
I wonder about slices of cow or sheep teeth? You'd have to think differently about inlay though.
Important to know what we're buying though.

Jan 24, 2021 - 1:20:10 PM
Players Union Member

steampunk

Australia

12 posts since 2/25/2019

G’day Random Scandinavian.
Green abalone is the local New Zealand marine snail species. Our east coast Australian species is pink. In New Zealand the polished shells are readily available in most souvenir shops. I don’t think it’s particularly rare & last time I was there I bought one as a gift & declared it on my return to Australia. Australia has some of the most stringent quarantine standards in the world & I had no trouble importing it. I hope this helps. Dean

Jan 24, 2021 - 1:29:45 PM

Bill H

USA

1530 posts since 11/7/2010

I have used deer antler, which is shed annually by the deer and readily available. It does lack luster however.

Jan 24, 2021 - 3:28:14 PM

cevant

USA

93 posts since 2/5/2020

Lots of green, pink, red abalone here in California too....

Jan 24, 2021 - 10:36:27 PM

177 posts since 10/18/2020
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Abalone is a clam like creature in the oceans and seas the meat inside the eat and the shells the sell or crush up

Jan 25, 2021 - 2:35:35 PM
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73958 posts since 5/9/2007

Remember those big old shell ashtrays?
That's abalone with all the colors.
I found one of those ashtrays years ago and get abalone nuts and bridges from it,today.
I like that shell (pearl or abalone) is harder than bone and lasts as a nut for decades without strings wearing into the grooves.
I never get that tuning "chirp" with a shell nut like I do,eventually with bone.

Jan 26, 2021 - 8:37:50 AM

208 posts since 8/11/2015

quote:
Originally posted by Andyrhydycreuau

So abalone, (sometimes called ormer, or paua in NZ) are marine shells from the genus Haliotis.
There was one South African species listed on CITES, but it was removed in 2010. So there are now no Haliotis species on CITES.
But several are IUCN "red list" species meaning they are critically endangered. Including the South African one (Haliotis midea, the black abalone) that was removed from CITES.
So you likely wouldn't be committing international wildlife Crime, but could be buying critically endangered wildlife.
I wonder what else could be used as inlay that would be better environmentally? North Wales slate from here in the UK could work on blonde wood. Contrasting woods? Recycled copper wire?
There seems to be a "thing" now amongst some makers to use mammoth ivory. Obviously this is not sustainable (they don't make mammoths any more) but can't make an already extinct mammal any more extinct. However, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of mammoth ivory as it has the potential to encourage the disguising of poached elephant ivory - dyed to look like mammoth.
I wonder about slices of cow or sheep teeth? You'd have to think differently about inlay though.
Important to know what we're buying though.


Interesting about the entire CITES situation on this. The problem remains that even though one species may exist in abundance, a customs official will not know this. He or she will look for the paperwork. So in reality, anything may get you into trouble when buying from abroad, as long as it is not accompanied by certificates/evidence of some kind. I'm sure they couldn't fine you for something perfectly legit, but they are likely to keep it.

I agree about the mammoth. Definitely staying away from that one. I cannot imagine that there are any esthetic or acoustical properties to it, besides showing off. Some people like to have dead things mounted on their walls but it's not really my thing. Having said that, teeth could be fun I suppose. In my country people used to collect their family's lost teeth and embed them into furniture, especially chairs that would have a neat row of molars around the edge of the seat. In my youth I was toying with the idea of doing that to a wooden toilet seat to scare guests, but I didn't have any teeth to spare.

I do have a stash of mop but I think I will make an inlay of blonde and brown woods on an ebony fretboard background. I was thinking leaves. Not groundbrakingly original, but nice.

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