A young industry producing high
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
Findings from Ridley Aquafeed on ratios animals need to gain 1kg.
AUSSIE BARRA: Coral Coast Barramundi growout manager Corey Sanders inspects a barramundi for parasites on their gills.