WAFIC Northern Tour Highlights
1,249 kilometres and 13 hours later (with a pie pitstop in Dongara) the WAFIC crew reached Exmouth, from Perth, to be part of the 2018 Ningaloo Whaleshark Festival and meet with local stakeholders. The festival provides an important venue to educate the community about the benefits and sustainability of the commercial fishing industry in Western Australia.
The drive was smooth, with time passed eating lollies, enjoying the amazing expanse of landscape and looking for the local wildlife – including kangaroos and emus, wild goats, birds, sheep and dingos. As time passed, the terrane became a distinctive canvas full of geographic history, intertwining trees and boasting vivid colours – from earthy reds to dark-emerald greens.
The drive was full of oversized and undersized, small-towns full of personalities and jalapeno sausage rolls, grey nomads heading north and a road that didn’t end. The front window provided a high-definition screen to some of the oldest land and soil in the world – replicating the Moon or planet Mars.
Exmouth generally boasts a hot semi-arid climate, and that was confirmed as staff drove through red dust on the way up. Thankfully that Thursday it was monsoonal – and frankly a little temperamental – as the team brought the rains to the community town, cleaning out the dust in the process.
Rewinding time, Exmouth, located on the top tip of the North West Cape, was established as a US military base in World War II. Today the town promotes tourism ventures and is marketed as home of the “Range to Reef” experience. The town is also a home port for the MG Kailis fishing fleet where Tiger Prawns and the Western King Prawns are the prized catch. On board, the crew catch, process and pack prawns frozen-at-sea.
Day 1 – Friday
On Friday it was full steam ahead to meet and greet the team behind the Fresh Fish Shack where local, fresh seafood are a priority for owners Leigh and Nikki.
Situated in down-town Exmouth, the seafood retailer offers top-quality seafood to the public – tourists, locals and grey-nomads alike. The point of different is Leigh is a commercial fisher – catching local produce such as Pink Snapper, Pearl Perch, Goldband Snapper and a huge array of other premium fish. They also offer to the market Kailis Exmouth prawns and other Western Australian and Australian sourced seafood.
Next was onwards to fresh fish and chips for lunch at Blue Lips Fish and Chips (great seeing local fish on the menu) then a site visit to the Exmouth Marine Precinct to see where all the marina action occurs.
Day 2 – Saturday
A flying Whaleshark, live entertainment, celebrity chef Anna Gare presenting a cooking demonstration featuring mouth-watering fresh Kailis prawns, activities and stalls were all part of this year’s 2018 Ningaloo Whaleshark Festival.
Team members from the MG Kailis Group, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) shared a commercial fishing marquee at the Talanjee Oval at the all-day event. A red carpet was placed to lure the public into the marquee where they were greeted by the star of the show – a replica wooden MG Kailis prawn trawler from the fishing fleet – named after Janice – a long-standing team member.
It was all about educating the local community about WA’s sustainable seafood industry. This was achieved by face-to-face discussions, recipe giveaways and a competition to go in the draw to win a $100 gift card to the Fresh Fish Shak –plenty of action and never a dull moment!
Day 3 – Carnarvon
Day 3 was a drive to Carnarvon where a trip to the Carnarvon Marina was the priority pit-stop. The team arrived just in time to watch Shark Bay Prawn trawlers wind their way through the mangrove passage and come into dock for moon closure.
Next was the chance to meet managing director, Peter Jecks, of Abacus Fisheries. Abacus is one of the largest crab facilities in Australia – catching and processing premium blue swimmer crabs. Abacus Fisheries supply blue swimmer crabs as well as value-added products such as their crispy crab cakes and cooked crab meat.
The business delivers WA sustainable product to both the domestic and export markets. Peter was an excellent host and a generous sample provider with WAFIC staff having the chance to do a ‘product taste test’ of his Carnarvon blue swimmer. Licking their lips, staff guaranteed that the species was delicious with the crab meat tasting both delicate and sweet.
Day 4 – Carnarvon
Staff had the opportunity to tour the Carnarvon Mareterram headquarters with General Manager Scott Razga. After 21 days at sea, the fleet had docked for the moon unload.
Scott showed WAFIC staff how the crew process prawns on board the trawlers via a grader which sorts and processes King and Tiger prawns. Each trawler can hold up to 20 tonne of frozen and 2 tonne of snap frozen. The crew also process crabs and scallops.