Mulloway farm a real catch
IF YOU drive a few kilometres past the Palmers Island Public School, you will stumble across Andrew Carroll and his mulloway, which call the old prawn ponds on the property home.
It is also a very important stop on the Causley Fresh Gate to Plate food trail, as you can see mulloway making their journey from an egg bought from the NSW Fisheries Department to being a fully grown, ready-to-cook fish.
"I'm really pleased to be a part of the Gate to Plate. I think it's a really great initiative to showcase exactly what we have to offer here," Andrew said.
"I have only been farming for three years, but I see the value of events like the Gate to Plate."
The 2010 Young Farmer of the Year runs Palmers Island Mulloway with his father and says he always had an interest in aquaculture and fish.
"I was working down in South Australia with kingfish, mulloway and tuna, which were farmed in sea cages that were 8m deep in 26m of water.
"I though that the breed was more suited to land-based cultivation, so I gave it a go."
The small prawn farm was put up for sale shortly after this plan hatched, and Palmers Island Mulloway was born.
When it comes to the wild-versus-farmed fish debate, Andrew insists he tries to keep the environment he grows his fish in as close to natural as possible.
"If the fish is kept as happy as it can be, it is going to grow as fast as it can, so it really is in our best interests to treat them well," he said.
Treating mulloway well involves monitoring water temperature and adjusting feed so the fish are always in top condition.
"We don't use antibiotics or chemicals that manipulate the colour of the flesh, like they do in some salmon farms," he said.
"We encourage the algae that naturally occurs, which is good for us too because it acts as a natural filter and breaks down ammonia nitrate.
"Our green image that we are trying to put out there is genuine."
Also trying to be as sustainable as possible, Andrew said nothing in nature is interrupted with this method of farming and no wild fish are affected at any point.
He said there are some benefits to being able to monitor the fish from egg to plate - taste being one.
"I will never say that farmed is better than (wild) fish, because everyone prefers something different.
"Ours tend to be a little more of a richer flavour, which has a lot to do with maximising growth.
"A lot of restaurants down in Sydney like that fuller flavour, so the fish can be the star of the dish and it doesn't need to be drowned in sauce to give it that nice flavour.
"It is already richly flavoured in itself."
You can get more information about the farm by visiting www.pim.net.au/.