Australia’s largest barramundi farm has harvested about 50,000 fish in the leadup to Easter — a record week for the Northern Territory business.
Humpty Doo Barramundi, 75 kilometres east of Darwin on the banks of the Adelaide River, put on more staff and ordered 50 extra tonnes of ice to make sure the fish got to markets across the country before Good Friday.
Owner Dan Richards said this week’s 100-tonne output was about five times what the farm was producing five years ago.
“This fish is going to every corner of the continent, so we have had fleets of trucks coming in and we have been doing heaps of work in the factory to make sure the customers are all packed to exactly what they want,” he said.
“It’s a huge effort working with customers all around the country to understand the volumes they need to get for their customers for Easter.
“We have to work with our harvest teams to get the fish at the right size the customers want.”
Mr Richards said the demand for the farm’s barramundi was growing year-on-year, but Easter was always a busy period.
“It helps us understand what bigger volumes look like, as we grow our business we go ‘Right, that’s what putting out 100 tonnes of fish looks like, we need to get ready for that’.”
Do you know where your seafood comes from?
A new study by the Australian Barramundi Farmers Association (ABFA) has found nearly half of Australians don’t know whether their seafood is local or imported.
The research was led by the University of Sunshine Coast Food Research Group and surveyed 2,000 people.
ABFA executive officer Jo-anne Ruscoe said, given the choice, more than half of those surveyed would look or ask for local barramundi, if they knew the majority of seafood on menus was from overseas.
“Our challenge is that many people, understandably, think all barramundi is Australian, with its Aboriginal name and longstanding position as our ‘national fish’,” she said.
New regulation was introduced for country of origin labelling in retail stores last July.
However, outside of the Northern Territory there is still no regulation for the hospitality industry to include country of origin on menus.
Ms Ruscoe said this was a concern for Australian barramundi farmers, particularly in the lead-up to Easter when seafood consumption reached its second highest level for the year.
“Australians have a right to know where their seafood is from and make an educated choice on whether they purchase Australian or imported species; it doesn’t matter whether you’re buying from a supermarket or whether you’re buying from a restaurant,” she said.
“We’ll also be working hard to make our product more visible and readily available; there’s no doubt our farmers are able to meet that gap between the imported and the domestic product.
Biggest barra farm to get bigger
In May 2018 Humpty Doo Barramundi was approved for a $7 million loan from the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility, to expand its production.
Mr Richards said work on new ponds and a large nursery facility would be starting in the next couple of weeks.
“We have been waiting for the wet season to end so that we can start work,” he said.
“That investment will enable us to double the scale of the farm over the next two or three years, as well as employing a lot more people here in the Northern Territory.”