WA Octopus Fisher’s Foodie Venture
Raymond Ralph is a man of all sorts – a fisher, entrepreneur and he was even a farmer. It is his love of the outdoors – being present in nature’s wilderness – that he said was his calling in life.
“I first started out as a farmer then moved to Kalbarri where I got a cray fishing job as a deckhand – I did that for 11 years.”
“From there I decided to pursue my own business venture by investing money to purchase an octopus boat – and the required pots.”
Raymond said that he used to come home from the cray boat then jump in the car to drive to pull the octopus pots.
“The days used to be big,” he chuckled.
“I started early in the morning doing the cray fishing, where I would come home around 2pm to drive to pull up the octopus pots.”
“But I loved the challenge!”
Starting fresh out as an octopus fisher, meant learning the ropes and finding out the hard-way where the octopus are hidden.
“When my deckhands and I first started out – we would pull in about 10kg of octopus a week – because they just weren’t around. We then decided to jump ship and move our boat location to Port Gregory to catch them there.”
“My two deckhands and I have since moved and are now located in Leeman where we can catch up to half-a-tonne each week.”
Raymond said that he and his family are based in Mandurah, but the boat is in Leeman – meaning a four-hour drive to go to work.
“We drive up a couple of times a week. We are very committed to ensuring that our customers have access to fresh WA octopus.
“We fish deep water – usually 20-25 fathoms- which is unusual to other octopus fishers who usually work around the 7 -16 fathoms mark.”
Raymond and his deckhands usually start at mid-night and finish at 10am in the morning, pulling up between 400-600 pots.
“The hardest factor for us is the weather. We are dependent.”
“Last year we had a couple of bad days – so we faced 22-hour days just to get the job done and the gear pulled.”
Raymond and his partner run the fresh seafood van – ‘Ralphy’s Ocean Treats’ where they sell local, WA fish and marinated seafood at the Farmers Market on Manning. The business is now in its 3rd year.
“We only catch and sell fresh, local seafood. We don’t purchase imported seafood and we don’t have a big profit margin because we want our customers coming back. Got to keep those customers happy!”
“Next in line for us, is to expand. We are in the process of looking for a retail store, so we can focus on catering and for customers to walk-in and have a feed of our marinade.”
“The seafood van was originally located at the Mandurah Markets, but we decided to move to the Manning Farmer markets almost 2 years ago. We only had a few customers when we first started, now we sell out every weekend.”
The couple are known for their 500-gram jars of delicious, fresh marinated Western Australian Prawns, Octopus, Squid and Sardines.
“We also sell fresh fish. I catch a small amount of fish on the boat and the rest we purchase from the Canning Vale Markets.”
“Popular species that we sell include wild caught Barramundi from Northern WA, Red Emperor, Gold Band Snapper, Pink Snapper, Dhufish.”
“My wife has also just started her own pickling.”
He laughed, “it’s my wife’s secret recipe, she won’t tell me what she puts in it! We have been trialling it for 4 weeks – and they have been a sell-out.”
Raymond says that they are now also catering for Mandurah Cruises serving a buffet which includes Mandurah Blue Swimmer Crabs, Oysters, Prawns, Octopus and their Yummy Seafood Skewers.
“The tourists love our local seafood – it flies like hot cakes.”
For Raymond and his young family – they have had to face the highs and the lows. Often, he had to work long hours, whilst the young family faced the uncertainty of money. But things are looking up and he wants to ensure that his customers get the very best WA seafood can offer.
“We have done everything on our own. There was nothing there for us to help us out. There were times there when there wasn’t much money coming in where we had to work 3 jobs to pay the the boat and keep it running.”
“But we are getting there… slowly. Yes we have had to work hard to get to this point, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Concluding, Raymond said that he has always had a love for fishing and wants to share his passion for the deep blue and love of WA seafood with his customers.
“I love fishing – I have always loved fishing. Even when I was farming – I was always hanging out to go fishing. It is in my blood.”
“All I want is to ensure that our customers get the best that Western Australian seafood has to offer and know how lucky – we all are – to be able to enjoy some of the best in the world.”
To purchase delicious seafood indulgences from ‘Ralphy’s Ocean Treats’ – you can catch the young family at the Farmers markets in Manning on Saturday Mornings.