Narooma Seafood Direct
0432 087 149
Attendance at market
Distance from market
5 March 2015
CONTACT NAROOMA SEAFOOD DIRECT
Australia imports 72% of its fish and shellfish. The ecological and social impacts of these imports vary widely. We are fortunate to have some truly local sources of seafood at our market.
Narooma Seafood Direct is a family owned and run fishing enterprise and is probably unique in Australia as an integrated operation. There are two licensed fishing boats involved: a long line boat and an inshore trailer boat.
The long line boat operates under the management of the Commonwealth agency, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA). All their fish is subject to a quota and must be logged when it is caught, and again when sold. The paper trail for these pelagic fish is very comprehensive.
The long line boat uses kilometres of line with baits clipped on the line at regular intervals. Floats with radio beacons are also attached to allow the line to be easily located, for example if the line is cut by a passing coastal freighter. The main species targeted are Tuna (Yellowfin, Big-eye and Bluefin), Swordfish and Marlin. Much of the Tuna is exported to Japan.
The other species caught are referred to as ‘by catch’ and these include Mahi-Mahi, Albacore Tuna, and Butterfish. These species are not in high demand at the wholesale fish markets, and often their sale price would not cover the cost of transport. The farmers market provides a viable outlet for these overlooked species.
The inshore trailer boat catches species such as Snapper, Flathead, Wrasse, Rock Cod and Sea Bream.
As well as the 2 licensed boats, the family business started its own processing facility at Narooma 18 months ago. This allows them to value-add and sell their fish directly to the customer.
This grew out of Hayley Abbott’s desire to keep the family business viable. Hayley was awarded a scholarship to study at the Southeast Missouri State University and graduated with honours from a degree in Sports Management and Business. As a third generation fisher, she returned to Australia with a passion to change the way the family business operated, to make it more sustainable both financially and ecologically.
Since starting their stall at the SAGE Farmers Market, Narooma Seafood Direct have taken great pleasure in sharing their knowledge of these lesser known (and cheaper) fish with the customers. Albacore Tuna has become a particular favourite with customers, and according to skipper John, is easily the most abundant tuna in their fishing grounds.
Conversely, They have seen Yellowfin stocks reducing. John explained that these fish like warmer water, and are targeted by the large fishing/processing ships in international waters.
In the early 1980s there were 10 long line boats operating out of Narooma, now there is one, and there are around 30 operating in Australian waters. Their long line boat carries an observer from the Management Authority every 5 trips, and the boat has a GPS link that allows AFMA to track its movements with great accuracy.
One of the projects that the Abbott’s have participated in has been developing methods to eliminate the accidental catching of birds such as albatross. The solution has been a combination of heavier swivels to get the baits down quickly, and the use of what is called a streamer or tori line. This device uses bright orange streamers suspended from a cable which create a kind of moving ‘fence’ above where the baits are sinking, and prevents the seabirds from diving.
The processing works at Narooma process the fish into portions which are either blast frozen or chilled. The fish frames are sold as bait for lobster pots. Fish flesh which is too small for ‘portions’ is also saved and is the basis for their fish cakes.
A new addition to the operation is a fish smoker and we were lucky to be there as their latest test batch finished. Hot smoked Yellowfin is pretty special!
Future plans include a packing and cryovac area for packing restaurant portions and the smoked fish.