Mullet dazzles crowds at this year’s Mandurah Crab Fest
Media and event organisers believed that the 2018 Mandurah Crab Festival was set to draw a crowd- and they weren’t wrong. Over 120,000 attendees joined this year’s festivities, that drew upon the 20th anniversary of the award-winning event aimed to promote not only the Peel region as a tourism destination, but the native Blue Manna Crab.
For the community and visitors alike, the festival offered a family fun day brought to life by Mandurah’s Eastern foreshore bursting with commotion and entertainment whilst promoting the unique city, and fresh, local produce from fishers and farmers alike.
The weekend provided an important opportunity for the team from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and WAFIC to not only promote sustainability of WA fisheries but underutilised, often misrepresented, local species. Combined, MSC and WAFIC manned a stall where WA Seafood Ambassador Don Hancey wowed the crowds with his crafted mouth-watering samples of ‘Banksia Smoked Mullet with a dollop of Lemon Myrtle Mayo, sprinkled with chives.’
Minister for Fisheries, The Hon. Dave Kelly joined Don Hancey & MSC global ambassador Bart van Olphen on the main stage for a cooking demonstration – educating consumers about where their local seafood comes from, the sustainability of our fisheries and how to cook with Mullet.
Mr Kelly stated to the crowd that the State Government is very pleased and proud that WA takes sustainable fishing seriously.
“In 2016, the Mandurah Crab Fishery was the first fishery in the world to be certified as sustainable, both recreationally and commercially.”
“Along with MSC, we managed to get this fishery certified, along with 7 others in WA.”
“The Western Rock Lobster was the first fishery in the world to get certified as sustainable. The State Government was really proud of that achievement. And, really proud of the fishing industry.”
Mr Kelly acknowledged that WAFIC had been a driving force along with people like Damien Bell.
Concluding, he announced to the crowd that, “people want to eat seafood that they know is sustainable. Here in WA that is what we do fantastically.”
Across the two days, Mr Hancey ended up creating over 2000 mullet samples for the inquisitive crowd and, as imagined, they didn’t last long. Enjoying their tasty treat, festival goers listened to WAFIC staff promoting the sustainability of our fisheries, endorsing supporting local and general facts that about WA’s vibrant seafood industry.
For many people, they couldn’t believe that the sea mullet was caught in the Mandurah Estuary directly behind them. One patron commented, “I have been a Mandurah local my whole life and you wouldn’t believe it, I have never tried Mullet – never even considered it.” “Truthfully, I feed a family of six and seafood is expensive – I can’t afford to buy it often.” “After today’s experience, and knowing it is from our backyard and so cheap, I will definitely give Mullet a go,” she said.
From questions/ statements such as “am I eating crab” to “I only use mullet as bait” – staff never had a dull moment throughout the weekend. And that was what the weekend was used for – to EDUCATE seafood lovers throughout WA. Patrons were graciously surprised to meet the man behind the Mullet, fisher Damien Bell – who assisted staff by chatting away to festival goers over the weekend.
Mr Bell said it was excellent to have the support from WAFIC, MSC and Don Hancey to be able to showcase WA’s proved sustainability track record.
“Across the two days, I received more technical questions – such as how fishers operate.”
“Weekends like this are so important, because when you’re there face-to-face talking to people, you’re able to give them a genuine response to their queries.”
“Being able to explain how us fishers are governed and managed is very important – it takes out all the misconceptions that people see on social media.”
Mr Bell said that over 2000 free portions were handed out to the crowds and it was great to see people, of all ages, enjoying both the smoked and sashimi sea mullet.
“I was handing out samples to the young, old, middle aged – people of all ages and backgrounds who had never tried Mullet before were keen to give it a go.”
“I ended up preparing sashimi sea Mullet with a bit of light soy sauce as a trial. We received such a fantastic response – I couldn’t believe it myself.”
Concluding, Mr Bell said that patrons enjoyed their mullet samples so much, they kept asking if he was selling smoked mullet fillets…
“Guess they will have to wait for next year – watch this space,” he laughed.
To all the people we met along the way, we hope that you enjoyed your sample and more importantly – you learnt more about this great WA industry worth over 500 million to the economy and providing 1000’s of jobs for West Aussies. As was yelled out multiple times on the weekend – get on board today and support our local fishermen!