Former cattleman finds his niche by diving into crayfish
Farmer follows interest in aquaculture to redclaws
DESPITE growing up around cattle, a passion for fishing had David Agnew hooked on a career in aquaculture.
Nine years ago he started Coondoo Claw, a redclaw farm in Wolvi, northeast of Gympie.
“We previously looked at fish and barramundi but it wasn’t the right time and not as user-friendly,” he said.
Mr Agnew said redclaw production had fewer risks than fish.
“When you farm fish you have to always make sure the water is the correct temperature,” he said.
“With redclaw you have a bit more leeway with those things.”
Currently, Mr Agnew works in the family business, which makes firefighter uniforms.
But in the coming months he’ll blow out the flame and dive into his business full time.
“It started as a hobby farm, but now it’s starting to look like the uniform production will go overseas,” Mr Agnew said.
“Working with them full time will allow me to keep a closer eye on pests like water rats and other vermin that get into the ponds.
“Because I’m not home throughout the day a lot of the time I won’t know there’s a problem until I harvest.”
Above each pond there are nets that are fitted with a laser bird deterrent system to keep hungry beaks away from the claw.
“Pest control is pretty important,” Mr Agnew said.
“If birds get into them they can eat up to 1kg of them.
“When water rats get in they can have a feed and then just kill them for the sake of it, like foxes do.”
Mr Agnew said he buys the little nippers when they are quite small and allows nature to take its course before harvesting.
The 12ha block is currently set up with 20 ponds, with another 16 half-built.
“The ponds are all
50 x 20m,” he said.
“After every harvest we have to let the water out so we have a plug at the bottom.
“Out of a harvest we can get anywhere between 70 to 200kg per pond.”
He said the water goes into a settlement pond to keep it from running off into other waterways.
“From there the water is recycled,” he said.
Mr Agnew uses a flow trap method to harvest.
“We put a bin at the top of the pond ramp and it has a chute of running freshwater and the redclaw walk up into the bin,” he said.
with them full-time will allow me to keep a closer eye on pests like water rats.
— David Agnew
“It’s their natural instinct to follow freshwater so it’s a more natural process.
“They can walk themselves up there from when they’re under 1cm long.”
He said farming redclaw full time would allow him to expand on his business.
“In the near future we’ll send them directly to the Sydney Fish Market under our own brand,” Mr Agnew said.
EXPANDING: 20 redclaw ponds are about to become 36 with another 16 ponds already half-built.
DIVING IN: Redclaw farmer David Agnew will begin farming redclaw full time in the coming months.
After harvest, water is let into a settling pond where it is then recycled.
Coondoo Claw is located in Wolvi near Gympie and is owned by David and Michelle Agnew.