How our partnerships enable cross-sectoral exposure for farmers and fishers .. and find us the best prawns for Christmas

When people think of agriculture thoughts normally run to paddocks of golden wheat, huge mobs of cattle or vibrant rows of lettuce; rarely do thoughts turn to fishing. Yet fishing is one of the major industries that feeds our world. It is why Action4Agriculture has formed a strong partnership with Austral Fisheries. Austral was the first seafood business in the world to be certified as Carbon Neutral and sponsor fleet operations manager Bryan van Wyk to participate in the Young Farming Champions program.

Austral CEO David Carter believes in our partnership.

“Fishing is not traditionally thought of as agriculture but we’re all in this together as food producers and by working with Action4Agriculture we have gained cross-sectoral exposure.  Breaking down those traditional barriers has been very valuable to us.”

“In a broader sense, Austral believes in nurturing our youngsters and fostering their talent. Action4Agriculture gives us opportunities for our young people to grow and we are happy to invest in these people because they give back in spades. One of the great joys of being older is that of supporting smart young folks to find their place in the world and then to find their voice.” he says.

Bryan has been a valuable member and contributor to the Young Farming Champions cohort in the past two years, and his passion for his industry has meant traditional agriculturists have had their experiences broadened. With a degree in marine biology he speaks from the heart and the head and writes eloquently of issues facing fishing, such as by-catch, and has strong admiration for those who work alongside him.

“We recently finished the 2021 northern prawn season where our fleet of 11 trawlers travelled from Northern Territory to northern QLD. All crew have returned home safely and the vessels are now tied up in Cairns ready for routine summer maintenance. The men and women that operate these vessels are some of the hardest working, mentally tough and dedicated individuals in the country. They leave their family, friends and homes behind, work through rough weather without any nights off all while being confined to their 20 odd meter floating home for four months with their colleagues. It isn’t all that bad though – they get to experience parts of the world that most would only dream of, they get to see a range of beautiful marine wildlife (often collecting data for scientists), experience the best sunsets and sunrises the world has to offer, build friendships that last a life time, live away from the day-to-day chaos and stress associated with land life and make enough money to take six months holiday per year,” he says.

Now, as Christmas approaches, Bryan’s passion can help us all to source the world’s best prawns and understand the ethical approach taken to their catch.

Let’s hear Bryan elaborate on our favourite Christmas indulgence:

“Australia has some of the best fisheries management in the world and produces sustainable, quality seafood however we import almost 70% of the seafood we consume. One of the main culprits for seafood imports is in fact prawns. You will often find imported frozen pre-cooked prawns in the freezer isles of supermarkets. Many of these products are cheap, low quality and lack certification.

“Christmas is a special time for Australians. We want to end the year on a good note and wish to celebrate the event with our close family and friends. In my opinion there is no place for low quality imported prawns on the Christmas table. My message to Australians selecting their Christmas seafood is to check for marine stewardship council (MSC) certification and country of origin labelling (both of which will be clearly displayed on the packaging). By selecting MSC products you ensure sustainability and support healthy marine environments, If operators have gone to great lengths to ensure their seafood is sustainably recognised, then they will also take pride in ensuring their products are high quality.

“When it comes to eating our Christmas prawns there are a lot of delicious alternatives beyond the commonly purchased “cooked prawn”. I always purchase raw prawns because it gives me plenty of options for Christmas (garlic, panko crumbed, chilli, bbq, skewers etc) and at the end of the day, if I want to boil them I can. In fact, not many people know this but you actually get a much fresher flavour when you boil raw prawns in saltwater at home, rather than thawing out precooked prawns. It’s simple as well. Just get a pot of saltwater boiling, add your thawed raw prawns and when all prawns are floating they’re ready for a saltwater ice bath!

“My last tip as a seafood lover and bargain hunter would be that the best bang-for-your-buck will be found in the seafood deli section in our supermarkets or fish markets – just keep a look out for MSC label.”

Cross-sectoral exposure, a Young Farming Champion dedicated to his craft and fresh, sustainably-caught Australia prawns for Christmas – does it get any better than this?

Bryan in his happy place 

#marinestewardship #sustainablefishing #youthinag

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