With super-foods and healthy eating on the tips of many consumers lips, the Eyre Peninsula's Omega 3 rich sardines are fast becoming a protein of choice on dinner plates across the country.
The Eyre Peninsula is blessed with an abundance of Australian Sardines. Primary growth in the sardine fishery was due to demand from Port Lincoln tuna farmers; they utilise sardines as feed for the Southern Bluefin Tuna which are ranched in the region from February to September. Whilst the main market for sardines is the tuna farm sector, an investment in specialised processing equipment was made by several Port Lincoln based operators. This presents an exciting development in the fisheries future advancement.
Inexpensive, consistent and versatile, sardines offer the food service operator incredible opportunity. But the best part about sardines is the sustainability of the fishery. The sardines living in the waters off the Eyre Peninsula are carefully managed, with current catches only 15-20% of the sustainable annual volumes.
The Eyre Peninsula Sardine Fishery is the biggest single species fishery in Australia. There is a fishery-wide quota of 34,000 tonne per annum and the operators in partnership with Commonwealth and South Australian Government invest in research activities to ensure the harvest is long-term sustainable.
Australian Southern Exporters are an innovative sardine producer that is vertically integrated with post harvest processing and marketing program aimed at bringing consumers the best sardines in Australia.
Photo: The Advertiser
The Eyre Peninsula Sardine Fishery covers all the waters adjacent to the Eyre Peninsula coastline, however the focus of harvesting activities is in the waters surrounding Port Lincoln.
The Southern Spencer Gulf yields the majority of the catch with the main port of Port Lincoln and to the lesser extent Coffin Bay.
There are 12 vessels, ranging from 20 m to 50 m in length, currently involved in the harvest of sardines. The vessels utilise a method of harvesting called purse seining which is an active form of fishing that incorporates the use of sonar to target schools of sardines at night.
A single catch can yield between 5 to 100 tonne. Fish are pumped on-board the vessel into refrigerated sea water holds. As sardines feed on plankton, they are fast growing prolific breeders, they are at the top of the sustainable chain, which along with carrying an amazing level of omega 3, make them a perfect seafood.
Information: The SEAFOOD of the Eyre Peninsula- Australia's Seafood Frontier Book