Blue rib­bon

A young in­dus­try pro­duc­ing high

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FISH FARM­ING - GEORDI OF­FORD Geordi.of­ford@ru­ral­weekly.com.au .

HE’S GONE from chas­ing fish with a rod and reel to farm­ing them – Justin For­rester is liv­ing his dream.

He man­ages the Coral Coast Bar­ra­mundi farm near Bowen.

“I grew up in Western Aus­tralia lov­ing fish­ing and I wanted to learn about marine bi­ol­ogy,” he said.

“So I stud­ied at James Cook Univer­sity and my main fo­cus was to take the pres­sure off the big fisheries.

“It’s a pretty nice place to live too.”

Be­fore set­tling on the hardy breed five years ago the farm ex­per­i­mented with species such as coral trout and groper.

“The bar­ra­mundi han­dle the farm en­vi­ron­ment quite well,” he said.

“They can live in salt and fresh wa­ter and they grow quite quickly.”

The farm it­self is sit­u­ated just two kilo­me­tres from the ocean.

“Aus­tralia has un­be­liev­able wa­ter and it helps us grow a qual­ity prod­uct,” he said.

“The barra grown in salt­wa­ter have a nice sweet flavour.”

Ocean wa­ter is pumped to the dams ev­ery day, and is put back into the en­vi­ron­ment once they have fin­ished with it.

“The wa­ter is fil­tered in the treat­ment pond and then it’s pumped back out to the man­groves,” he said.

“They love it and so do the mud­crabs that live in them too.

“It’s our way of giv­ing back and look­ing af­ter the en­vi­ron­ment.”

The aquatic farm pro­duces up to 850 tonnes of fish a year, which are har­vested at the le­gal fish­ing size of 60cm long and three kilo­grams in weight.

“We keep the mums and the dads in tanks in our sheds,” he said.

“This al­lows us to change the tem­per­a­tures and light to make them think it’s sum­mer so they can pro­duce eggs for us.

“Hav­ing our own hatch­ery on farm sets us apart from the other farms.”

Mr For­rester said they only sup­ply fish to Aus­tralian whole­salers and fish­mar­kets.

“We sup­ply any­where be­tween 10 to 15 tonnes a week to restau­rants,” he said.

“Each pond for mar­ket con­tains ap­prox­i­mately 40,000kg of fish.

“We also sell fish so they can be put into dams for fish­ing.”

The farm em­ploys 20 per­ma­nent staff, in­clud­ing marine bi­ol­o­gists and en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists, and have peo­ple there 24 hours a

GRAPHIC: RI­D­LEY AQUAFEED

Find­ings from Ri­d­ley Aquafeed on ra­tios an­i­mals need to gain 1kg.

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

AUSSIE BARRA: Coral Coast Bar­ra­mundi growout man­ager Corey San­ders in­spects a bar­ra­mundi for par­a­sites on their gills.

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